I will warn you right now--if you are at all squeamish, DON'T LOOK!
I was working on updating the Bear Track website yesterday afternoon when I heard Lori hollering from the back deck. Something about a snake and "HURRY!!", so I grabbed my camera and ran down the stairs. I found Lori and Lisa peering into the tiger lily leaves. There, head just visible in a gap in the foliage, was a mid-sized garter snake trying to choke down a rather large American toad.
It was clear that the toad was a goner, but we were not convinced at first that the snake was going to manage to swallow the toad. The toad had filled itself with air and looked impossibly big.
The snake managed just fine.
Lori has a snake, an orange "candy corn" corn snake, and I've watched it eat its mice. This was different somehow. For one, the toad had been a living, breathing creature not moments before this. Kenny's mice come frozen in a box from the pet store.
This was probably the same toad I'd come across on several occasions
hopping around on the deck and had moved it out of harm's way--and the
reach of a chicken--more than once, so I had the thinnest veil of a
personal relationship with it. I like toads--they eat lots of bugs.
Not that I don't like snakes, but I, like so many other people, have a
tendency to identify with the victim, rather than the aggressor. I
don't claim to understand this as we are clearly a predator species, but
it may have to do with an overactive imagination that puts us in the
mouth of that snake, being eaten whole and, at least for a time, alive.
Anyway, with some work, the snake got the toad's front legs in its mouth, and eventually the toad deflated, making the second half of it go down a bit quicker.
As the snake retreated into the leaves, only the toad's toes remained. The entire process took maybe ten minutes.