It’s hard to not sympathize with that snake—sliding backwards into the gooey stomach of a carnivorous frog.
One perfectly timed photo shows the bizarre natural interaction as a snake is being eaten by the large, green amphibian.
The photo was posted yesterday and aptly titled “One Last Scream Into the Abysssss.” It shows two gaping mouths in a seemingly silent duet as a snake, presumably with its last breath, manages to peep out from the frog’s throat.
A FROG CHOKE DOWN A SNAKE TWICE ITS SIZE
The image, while newly resurfaced in popularity, is actually several years old. It was likely taken in Australia. Whether fascinated by the frantic snake or fixated on the frog’s gaping mouth, opportunities to anthropomorphize this photo have been seemingly endless.
Conservation biologist and Jodi Rowley identified the species on Twitter as an Australian green tree frog, Litoria caerulea. That animal can be found all over Australia and New Guinea. The female grows about four inches long, but males are smaller and usually grow to be three inches long.
Typically, the amphibian feeds on insects, but it has been known to seek out more ambitious prey like mice or other frogs.
“It really has more to do with prey being smaller than the mouth size and moving across the frog’s field of view,” said Karen Lips, a conservation biologist at the University of Maryland. Essentially—if the frog can eat it, it probably will.
She explained that most amphibians, reptiles, and fish swallow their food whole, so it’s not unusual to see bulging bellies and wriggling prey after it’s caught in a predator’s mouth.
Since snakes have long, thin bodies, it may have been difficult for the frog to gulp it down all at once, explained Lips. The photographer likely captured this photo mid-gulp as the snake attempted one last escape to freedom.
Whether or not this is a common meal is hard to say. Without knowing the photo’s origin, it’s unclear whether it was taken in captivity or in the wild. Numerous species of frogs have been caught chomping down on snakes many times their size.
It’s perhaps the only time, however, that a snake has been photographed trying to swim back out.