Little Heron confronts a Banded Bullfrog

A Little Heron (Butorides striatus), also known as Striated Heron, tried to swallow a Banded Bullfrog (Kaloula pulchra) but failed to do so when the frog inflates…

“I refer to your article on the Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) swallowing a puffer fish. It makes me recall an episode of an inflated prey; like the puffer fish – a frog. But the frog escaped from being a meal – by ballooning itself and feigning to be too big to be swallowed?

“A Striated Heron was waiting for its breakfast in shallow water when it noticed an adult frog (above left). The heron went nearer, then slowed to a halt to size up the frog before pouncing on the frog (above right). However, instead of using its mandibles to pick up the frog, it appeared that it intended to spear the frog. For some reason, it was not successful.

“After being pecked, the frog immediately inflated itself and also outstretched all its feet to exaggerate its appearance. Although the frog remained still, the heron did not attempt another go at the inflated prey (above left). Eventually, 15 seconds after the attack, the heron lost interest and gave up the frog to look for breakfast elsewhere (above right).

“I’m curious that the frog managed to escape from being eaten. Could the frog be poisonous and the heron somehow sensed it?”

Kwong Wai Chong
Singapore
10th November 2009

Note: The Banded Bullfrog is common throughout the island, suspected to have been introduced many years ago. It is easily recognised by the yellow-orange stripes along the sides and between the eyes. When threatened, it inflates itself with air and give off a foul-smelling, slimy secretion. This behaviour saved the bullfrog from becoming a meal of the heron. There is no report that it is poisonous.

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