I was finishing up my hike and thinking there was nothing left to see. The only thing left was to cross a small bridge at the front of the nature preserve. The bridge crosses a very very small creek. You could step over the creek most of the time. As I was taking the first step off of the bridge, I heard a rustling in the leaves just off the bridge to the left.
I stopped and began to look to see what it was. I assumed it must be another squirrel or something, but I discovered that it was really something completely different. I saw two snakes thrashing around in the grass and old fallen leaves. I remembered thinking earlier that I hadn't seen anysnakes in this place yet. There was something a little bit fatter in the middle of them, but I couldn't see what it was.
One of the two snakes quickly slithered under the leaves and was gone. It was hard to see what was going on, but as I focused my eyes I noticed something odd about the snake that was left. It didn't look like the other garter snakes I've seen in the past. This one was more of a brownish color and had less prominent stripes.
Now think about this from the eyes of a beginner to snakes. Someone who doesn't know very much. What would you think if you only knew of the existence of garter snakes and poisonous rattlesnakes, and you weren't at all sure this was a garter snake? And remember this nature preserve is in the middle of a well populated suburb of Detroit.
Not recognizing this as a garter snake, I began to get a sinking feeling in my stomach. It was exactly at that point that I realized what that fatter thing was. It was a fat little frog, and the snake was trying to eat it. The frog was still very much alive and struggling for it's life. It was losing. This sight made that terrible feeling in me become worse.
I thought this had to be a garter snake, but there was still the fact that it was different than the others. What if it wasn't? It's skin looked much rougher than the other garter snakes. What did a rattlesnake look like again? I couldn't quite remember, but this was kind of close. Oh crap! I had to do something!
With that thought, I began furiously taking pictures of the sight before me. The snake! The frog! The gruesome sight of the snake in the middle of feeding! I had to document what this snake looked like. If it was really a rattlesnake, I would probably have to report this to the authorities. I'm sure they would want to do something about a poisonous snake in this area.
But what would they do? They would surely want to remove any poisonous rattlesnakes from this area. Would they close down this park? I imagined them searching through the surrounding area, and possibly ruining it as they went. These woods stretch beyond the park. They go on for many miles. As I took my pictures, I felt sicker and sicker.
In the middle of all of this, the position of the frog changed so it was looking right at me. I could imagine it pleading with me to save it. I couldn't and wasn't going to save this frog. It was already too late for it. Besides, this was part of nature no matter what kind of snake this was. I couldn't interfere with that.
Here are some pictures of the snake feeding on the frog. I kept these smaller so they wouldn't be too upsetting for some people. If you want a better look, just click on the pictures.
I finally decided I had enough pictures. I now had to get home and find out what kind of snake this really was. The whole incident ruined my good day. I saw so many wonderful things before this. It was the day the goose showed me her eggs. My happiness was ruined by the thought of this snake.
When I got home, I checked several times over several days to find out and then make sure what this snake was. I was relieved to find out that it was a common garter snake. Some garter snakes look different than others. I already knew that part, but it was good to read it again.
I was pretty sure all along that it was only a garter snake, but the possibility of something worse just ruined my day. I'm still feeling the effects a week later. This is a good lesson for everyone that nature isn't always nice. It's not always a magical wonderland. When you go out there, stay safe and stay on the trails.