John Hadden Photography

Photography of the Natural World



Forest Battle

The garter snake pounces

While descending Hurricane Mountain a week or so ago, I spooked a large garter snake (probably 28-30″ long with a inch-and-a-half diameter). I stopped stock still and watched as he was obviously hunting—his tongue darting as he poked under a fallen tree and in the leaf litter. Without warning, he struck at something I didn’t see—a toad hidden under a layer of leaves. The battle ensued. Robin and I watched for a good 10 minutes as the struggle between snake and rather large toad played out…

The snake gets the toad out of the leaf litter
The toad holds on to a stick
The toad manages to get its head out of the snake’s mouth
The toad struggles to pull away
The snake manages to grap the toad’s head again…

Moments after this last shot, the snake righted itself, lifted the toad a good 6″ off the forest floor, and sped out of sight into cover to finish the job. We could only stand in awe at the power, strength, and persistence of the snake—and yes, we had some remorse for the toad. Such is life in the forest.

Photos taken with a Panasonic GM5 and Lumix 12-32mm lens.


An American toad hides in the leaf litter near Cobb Brook
An American toad hides in the leaf litter near Cobb Brook

Watch where you step! If this little toad hadn’t moved as I was walking by, I would have completely missed him (or squashed him!) His coloration perfectly matched the leaf litter where he was hiding!

Panasonic Lumix GM5, 12-32mm lens @ 28mm, ISO 500, f/5.5, 1/60″ exposure.

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