Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Owl And The Frog

All the cheap monster movies that show some giant crocodilian type critter munching through crowds of panicked humans pretty much have it as wrong as it can get. Cold-blooded animals need very little food in relationship to their mass than warm-blooded animals. This is why a thousand pound crocodile can eat once a month and a thousand pound bear is going to have to keep putting on the fat for winter.
What people who buy exotic snakes, like Burmese Pythons, do not understand is a python can eat just once a month, but will eat as much as you toss into the cage with him. Out in the wild, the odds of a mouse a day running within striking range might not be as high as it is going to be when some seven-year-old kid with access to a pet stop starts feeding his pet snake in front of the other kids for show. Five years later, when the snake is eight feet long, you will have trouble you have not known. Five years after that, when it’s eleven, or even twelve feet long, you’re going to have an animal living with you that is not controllable by any single human being, or any two that you know right now. Another very distinctive difference between warm-blooded pets and cold-blooded pets is cold-blooded creatures, to a species, have no ability to feel empathy. This is actually a tangent of sorts. Go back to the first paragraph and let us get back on track, shall we?
I have frogs now. To say I have a lot of frogs is like saying Custer had a lot of Sioux. They are not causing me the problems Custer had, but then again, I’m not causing any problems for the frogs, either. I try to keep Lucas out of the water as much as I can because wet dogs are not allowed in the house. With the firepit now a very good-sized wading pool, and the weather warming up, it’s going to be impossible. The Loki Mutt has discovered Frog Chasing as a hobby, and this will lead to no good. Yet I cannot help but be amused when he runs around what is now a small pond, forcing the frogs at the edge to flee in terror. They make this high-pitched squeaking noise as he approaches and he will race around the edge of the pond pit scaring the hell out of them and it makes it sound as if it’s the Loki Mutt’s feet making the noise.
I’ve discovered frogs are the mice of the amphibian world. Whereas all the predators in a field or forest will scarf down a mouse or a rat when the opportunity presents itself, in the world of the pond or the flooded fire pit, it is frogs who take the most predation personally. So far, Lucas hasn’t fell to eating frogs or at least I haven’t caught him. I suspect he would get very sick.
It won’t surprise you to hear almost all wading birds eat frogs, nor will it get your attention when I tell you nearly all water snakes make a living eating frogs. What might surprise you is how many times I’ve watched a hawk pick off a frog from a shallow ditch or the edge of a pond. I’m not talking about bullfrogs but smaller leopard frogs and spring peepers and such. There was a hawk near Needmore Georgia who staked out an area around a flooded ditch and several times I saw that one land near the water, then take off again with the silhouette of a pair of frog legs dangling from its talons. So late in the afternoon yesterday, the mutts and I went out for a romp, and we scared an owl up from around the pit, and I wonder if the owl was hunting frogs.
I know a lot more about snakes than I do about hawks and owls so I wonder if the fact frogs are plentiful is why the raptors are after them, or is the predator birds are somehow desperate for food and frogs are easy prey. But this is all predicated on me being right about why the owl was where the owl was. If it was just a misplaced bird of prey due to, let’s say, some recent logging activity nearby then we really don’t have a case for the weaken predator going after the low hanging fruit, do we? Of course there is something to be said about the Needmore Hawk Incident, unless that was a case of some species of swamp hawk who preys on frogs.

That’s the sort of things that spring into my mind when I see animals; is this what they normally do? Is there something we’ve done that might have caused this? Do owls eat frogs? Do frogs ever eat owls, no, I never really thought that, just checking to see if you’re paying attention still. But I question the nature of nature, and our impact upon her. Like the first graying hair, or the first small pain in the chest or the first time a friend mentions you’ve been drinking too much, maybe just a little, we ought to wonder why things are happening around us the way they do. Maybe things are suppose to be this way, and owls and hawks eat frogs, but what if they aren’t supposed to, and we’ve pushed them into behavior that isn’t natural? How long can it be until the same is said for us, or more importantly, how long has it been since has already happened, and we were not paying attention to that either?

Take Care,
Mike

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