Dicromantispa interrupta

Dicromantispa interrupta

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hints that show the truth to the wise

A few years ago my herper friend Sleazeweasel opined that he was "not sure any snake is non-poisonous." Now, that was a novel idea to me, and thus was food for thought! My friend voraciously consumes herpetological literature, catches every snake if he can that he sees and photographs it, and travels around the world seeking wilderness adventures in some of the planet's most resplendent hotspots of biodiversity. Thus, I have learned to respect his opinions re serpents.

One anecdote that his statement prodded up from my gray sediments is about a blacksnake (Coluber constrictor priapus) and a southern leopard frog (Rana sphenocephala). I was delineating a wetland somewhere in north Florida when I heard a bleating sound behind me. A leopard frog was in the mouth of a blacksnake, the frog's body bent in ?agony, and the frog was screaming. The blacksnake dropped the frog to the ground at the very instant that the snake and I made eye contact, and quickly slithered off into the dense saw-palmettos (Serenoa repens), leaving the moribund frog behind.

The leopard frog was evidently dying and made no attempt to escape from me. I thought this was odd; blacksnakes are not supposed to be poisonous or constrictors (in spite of their scientific name), and the frog had not asphyxiated nor was it bleeding significantly. A few minutes later the frog ceased all movement and died. So what killed the frog?

Bryan Fry's work implies that SW was right and that the blacksnake may kill frogs with venom:

A Bat and a Prayer

The following is a post made by a friend, Brian Houha, to a bulletin board we both belong to. Some might say these stories are only anecdotes, but I say that anecdotes are hints to the wise.

"Bird migrations through south Florida are at a peak right now. At about noon today, I was in the parking lot of the Pompano Harness Track when I saw six crows chasing after a small light brown winged creature that turned out to be a bat. The crows were much faster than the bat and as each was about to grab it with its beak, the bat dodged and weaved. Soon there were 12 crows after the bat. They took turns attacking the bat. But each time I thought the bat was a goner, the bat dropped and outmaneuvered the crow's closing lethal approach. Seconds after one crow missed, another was coming in for the kill. The slow moving bat continued to dodge their attacks. After a few minutes almost all of the crows lost interest and continued on their southern migration. The bat was closing in on some trees when I had to go. There was only one crow on his tail.

"It is rare to find bats in south Florida. I haven't seen one for about a decade. They are not fast fliers like birds and I can see that predation from birds was a major factor that led them to become nocturnal."

Brian Houha, January 13, 2009