Having just returned from a Thanksgiving vacation in
, I had
hoped to write about something uniquely New Englandy. To me the greater Massachusetts area is all about
clams, lobsters, shorebirds and cranberry bogs. Granted it’s a narrow, stereotypical
view but if I could expand my limited expectations then my trip would be a
Unfortunately I only spotted a few dumpster gulls and a couple of Deer Ticks (Ixodes scapularis). I probably should have gotten out more. But you know how Thanksgiving is. It’s all about the thanking and the eating and despite picking up a cold on the plane ride up (thanks open air sneezer in seat 24A!) I still managed to eat more than any normal person should at any given meal. It’s a funny thing, I don’t need to eat so much. I just want to and this makes me wonder how much joy a snake gets when it consumes a feast much larger than it appears it should.
A few years ago I was leading a summer camp in
. A couple of
kids heard a strange noise in the woods, called me over and we discovered a Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) eating
a Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans). Several kids were horrified but for the
most part there was great interest in the likelihood that this slender snake
could eat this wide-bodied and seemingly unflappable frog. The snake
meticulously maneuvered its ever widening mouth to position the frog into an
easy transition down its throat. Vermont
Once in the intestine, the gartersnake has the ability to elevate its metabolic rate, increase enzyme activity and blood flow to the digestive system and increase the mass of the intestine, liver and kidney to aid in removing and storing nutrients from its prey. It can just as quickly reverse all of these functions and revert to normal conditions. Ultimately the quick digestive process prevents a snake from slithering about with a large meal in its belly.
No such luck for me on Thanksgiving. My digestive system is used to a pattern of thrice-a-day feedings and I had clearly overwhelmed my system. Happy Belated Thanksgiving.