Predator vs. Prey: Garter Snake vs. Toad

By | June 1, 2013
From Xplor: June/July 2013

The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight. Here's what separates nature's winners from its losers.

Jumbo Jaws

Special jaw bones allow a snake to stretch its mouth around prey that's much larger than the snake's head. If you had this ability, you could swallow watermelons whole. Predator vs. Prey: Eastern garter snake vs. American toad

Backward Biter

A garter snake’s teeth point backwards. Once the snake bites down, the only direction prey can move is toward the snake’s tummy.

Whiz Bomb

Predators get a nasty surprise when they catch a toad: The toad pees on them. This tinkle attack makes many animals seek a less disgusting dinner.

Poisonous Sweat

Toads don’t cause warts, but their skin oozes poison. A mouthful of toad toxin can make a predator’s heart flutter and, in extreme cases, quit beating altogether.

More Than a Mouthful

When threatened, toads gulp air to swell up like warty balloons. This makes toads too fat for some predators to swallow.

And the winner is...

Garter snakes are immune to toad toxin, and they can open their toad-holes wide enough to swallow even fat amphibians. If the garter grabs hold, the toad won’t be hoppy. In fact, it may never be hoppy again.

And More...

This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White