The snake appears to be a baby brownsnake, according to Paul Oliver, a postdoctoral researcher at the Australian National University. That makes this interaction somewhat unusual, as many snakes are diurnal — active during the day — and frogs are nocturnal, Oliver explained.
"It seems unlikely to have occurred naturally (but then give things enough time in nature — all sorts of unlikely things do happen)," Oliver told Live Science in an email.
One possibility? "Human agency may have played role in the snake meeting the frog, but subsequently the frog's instincts to eat anything small took over," said Oliver, who studies the systematics and evolution of frogs and lizards.
In fact, tree frogs are referred to by some as "labradors of the frog world" for their indiscriminate eating habits, as they are known for trying to eat "just about anything they can fit into their mouths," Kathleen Doody, a researcher with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland in Australia, told Live Science in an email.
Regardless, from the frog's perspective, having your meal trying to writhe its way back up your throat is probably not a pleasant experience. But there are even more extreme examples of a meal turning disastrous for frogs, Kolby told Live Science.
Epomis beetle larvae, which look like tempting grubs to a hungry frog, are actually deadly carnivores that prey on their would-be predators, Kolby said. The larvae lure the frogs closer by waving their antenna, then strike with their powerful mandibles, latching onto the frog and consuming it alive, he said.
Did the snake in the photo somehow manage to wrest itself from the frog's maw and wriggle its way to freedom? We may never know how this particular incident ended. But for one moment in a life and death struggle frozen by a photographer's lens, the prey came out ahead.
Original article on Live Science.
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