Gulp!

It was just after noon on the first Friday of August. It was hot and humid. Earlier that morning Wayne, Camp Counselor, had reported seeing a large crawfish walking across the pavement in Explore the Wild. Over the past couple of months many of these large arthropods have been observed walking the paths of both Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind. Today was no different, or so I thought.

I was just about to make the turn out of the Wetlands towards the Lemur House when I heard a young voice behind me exclaim “Is that a scorpion?” I turned to see several children standing in front of one of the Wetland’s crawfish, slowly and with purpose, strolling across the Macadam.

crawfish
Two of several kids on the scene confront the crawfish.

After many minutes of picture-taking (by both the kids and myself) and conversation about where this strange creature was going and why, the children lost interest, and so did the crawfish. The decapod decided to head back into the water, I put away my camera (mistake), and the children moved on to seek more adventure along the trail.

crawfish
After many minutes of staring at each other, the children and crawdad lost interest and moved on to new adventures.

As I watched the crawdad back its way down the small, muddy slope into the Wetlands, a family of four happened by. Wondering what I was looking at, I told them and we all stood and stared at the creature cautiously backing down towards the water.

Just then, a large female bullfrog hopped out from behind some tall grass to the left and onto the bare earth a foot-and-a-half from the crawfish. The crawfish turned towards the frog, claws snapping. The frog leaped at the crawfish with jaws wide open and PHWAMP, in the blink of an eye the crawfish was inside the frog. By the time I was able to get my camera out and ready to shoot, the frog had turned and took a giant leap out into the water.

Kicking myself for not having the camera locked, loaded, and ready to shoot, I gazed out into the water and could see the frog sitting quietly in the water about twelve feet out. I could, at least, get an after-the-fact shot of the frog.

frog_crawdad
This big frog did not hesitate to take the large crawfish. The victim’s antennae can be seen projecting from the frog’s mouth (right side).

Trying to get a bit closer, I spooked the frog and it hopped farther out onto a small island, obstructed by much vegetation. Still, I was able to get a shot of the frog with a claw dangling from its mouth.

crawfish
A claw is clearly visible dangling from the frog’s mouth.

This event made my day, as it did the folks who were standing next to me at the time. It’s not everyday that you get to witness such a thing. Sure, I’ve seen bullfrogs go after dragonflies, butterflies, and have read accounts of them catching small birds and even mice, but the crawfish was unexpected for its proximity, boldness, and dispatch.

A good day in the Wetlands!

2 responses to Gulp!

  1. Avatar
    Jeff says:

    Well, you’ve got Blue Heron eating bullfrog and bullfrog eating crawfish – next you’ll need to document a crawfish as predator!

    • Greg Dodge, Ranger
      Greg Dodge, Ranger says:

      That’s going to be tricky. From raising crawfish in an aquarium I’ve seen them go after fish, worms, and aquatic insects, but they are not very good predators, mostly capturing whatever happens to accidentally bump into, or swim too close to, them. They’re essentially grazers, browsers and scavengers. But, you never know, one of these days…It’s a jungle out there!

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