Monday, June 25, 2012

The Frog Game: A New Player in Town

This weekend the open pond within the zoo was full of frogs: teeming with fat, half-grown tadpoles that pocked the surface with their carnivorous lunges at water-bugs, and the edges of lily pads and reed-beds lumpy with the bronze-green bodies of adults who floated, splay-legged, their dazed expressions suggesting too much time spent in the dazzling heat of the sun.

Perhaps the heat had addled their minds, or at least their usually well-honed sense of self preservation, because they showed no fear—or even awareness—of the many early-morning photographers clustering around their pond.

To play the frog game under these circumstances felt unsporting, so I didn’t bother to count the number of numbed amphibians gazing blankly past me. I soon discovered, however, that not everyone involved in the game was likely to be as generous: for there, right by the reeds—right there in the open, in broad daylight—was a really big snake!

That’s right: not a zoo-approved snake, but a wild one, a reptilian free agent, sitting (er, coiling) there like a wolf among the sheep. And the frogs weren’t doing a damn thing!

Maybe they feared drawing more attention to themselves by moving. But I can’t see how it was safer to stay within lunging distance of a huge predator… And these frogs really did look a bit stunned, like unsteady college kids after a night of binging; I can’t believe that all of them were aware of the snake and simply practicing a strategy of stealth.

But I can’t blame them for being unprepared. Probably the frogs assumed—as I had—that all the loose and brazenly displaying serpents were hanging out along the Appalachian Trail, not sunning themselves in the middle of the National Zoo.

Whatever the reason for their paralysis/torpor, I wasn’t about to stick around and see anybody get eaten.

It’s a dangerous game they’re playing.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

Wildlife with plot! I'll make sure you-know-who reads this!

Duck Life 3 said...

Cool Game. I LOve Frogs :)

Duck Life said...

Cool :)

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