Hungry Like the Frog

Posted: June 14, 2011 - 15:13 , by admin
Natural History, What's New, Nature, Sneak Peek, Collections | Comments (0) | Comment

Deep in the darkest depths of the ROM’s herpetology department lives a miniature but fearsome predator: the Pacman frog. Yes, you read that correctly: the Pacman frog, or Ceratophrys ornata to those who study him and his voracious ways.

His name is Gracie, and he’s 17 years old (not bad for an amphibian!). To give you an idea of the small size and large appetite of this capable predator, we snapped some shots of him having lunch.

WARNING: the following images may be disturbing to some. They show the frog in various stages of devouring a whole, dead mouse.

Pacman frog at rest

Frog at rest, contemplating lunch. Gracie typically gets by on six crickets a week, or a mouse about every six weeks.

Pacman frog eating a dead mouse

OM NOM NOM NOM! Gracie starts lunch (the mouse was dead long before it ever got to Gracie).

Pacman frog eating a dead mouse

This mouse probably weighs close to half what Gracie does. That's a serious lunch!

Pacman frog eating a mouse

Gracie has teeth on his upper jaw, and two bony projections on his bottom jaw, which he uses to immobilize prey. However, that means that by the time something is 3/4 of the way down, there's no turning back. Pacman frogs can choke to death in such a situation.

Pacman frog eating a mouse

Like many frogs, Gracie can use his eye sockets to push down on prey as he eats them. However, Gracie's skull is fully ossified, which means he has stronger jaw muscles than most frogs, and has less need to use his eye sockets that way.

Pacman frog eating a mouse

Almost done. By the way, never interrupt a Pacman frog in mid-meal: they'll pee on you when upset.

Pacman frog eating a mouse

At the tail end of the meal.

Pacman frog eating a mouse

Ready for seconds. Total elapsed time: 35 minutes.

Pacman frogs live in an endangered habitat: the Amazonian lowlands. To find out more about the Amazon, visit the Schad Gallery of Biodversity at the ROM where you can see a model of Gracie in his native habitat.

PS: any resemblance to Hypnotoad is purely coincidental.