From Xplor for Kids
June 2013 Issue

Predator vs. Prey: Garter Snake vs. Toad

Publish Date

Jun 01, 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.

Also in this issue

You Discover

There’s tons of fun in the sun for you to discover in June and July. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

How To: Build a Worm Hotel

You can recycle newspapers, turn kitchen scraps into garden fertilizer, and raise a never-ending supply of fishing bait.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Camouflaged critters have an edge in the dangerous game of survival.

Pirates of the Big Muddy

Ahoy, me hearties! Climb aboard to explore a Missouri River sandbar.

Wild Jobs: Naturalist Traná Madsen

Naturalist Traná Madsen wrangles spiders, snakes, and salamanders to connect people with nature.

Strange But True

Your guide to all the unusual, unique, and unbelieveable stuff that goes on in nature.

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

Stay in Touch with MDC

Stay in Touch with MDC news, newsletters, events, and manage your subscription

Sign up