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NATURE

Nature Battles: The Northern Water Snake vs. The Bullfrog

On Thursday, May 10, I was out with my 5th grade students on the trails of Prince William Forest Park in Virginia. We were visiting different sites with bodies of water collecting data for our science investigation.
The goal of our investigation was to answer a question: “Is Lake 1 or Lake 4 a better habitat for a Bullfrog?”
I’ve done this same investigation once before, but this time it was most exciting. While at one of the sites, Lake 1, we were concluding our collection of qualitative data on the site when we heard a loud croak and a splash nearby.
I looked to see from a distance what the sound was, and I saw a large frog jump and land near the shore. My first instinct was to walk over quietly and direct the students to move quietly behind me so we could all investigate the sound we heard. When we got closer to the shore, I looked into the water and I saw the tail of a snake right next to a Bullfrog.

At that moment I knew we were about to see something really cool go down. 

The snake had just caught the frog by his front leg! We all watched the frog try to jump away but the snake did not give up. At first the students were all sad for the frog because they all knew if he couldn’t jump away he was going to be eaten. I reminded the students that everyone has a right to eat and the snakes’ life was just as valuable as the frogs. We watched the entire thing from beginning to end; this took about 20-30 minutes.
In the end, when I asked students to share their opinions on the two habitats we investigated (Lake 1 and Lake 4) it was surprising to me that some of them still thought that Lake 1 was a better habitat for a Bullfrog. Their evidence was that there was a variety of habitat space for mating/laying eggs, and the presence of many Bullfrog tadpoles in the lake.

Watch the captivating battle video here!

Stephanie Silva is a NatureBridge educator at Prince William Forest Park.


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