Silver Xenica butterflies, a snake and a frog – predator-prey interaction at Honan Native Forest Reserve

Surveys for the Silver Xenica butterfly have commenced once again this autumn with the aim of confirming if two translocation sites near Glencoe (north-west of Mount Gambier in SA) still contain the butterflies. The surveys involve walking at a slow pace along pre-determined transects to count flying individuals and to identify their sex, if possible.

On a nice sunny morning on the 29th March 2024, I was walking out in Honan Native Forest Reserve (NFR) searching for the butterflies when I heard a rustle in the leaf litter and bushes next to the track. I stopped and noticed a small frog jumping through the tea-tree and grasses to my right, but swiftly following behind it was a Tiger Snake. The frog stopped once, and so did the snake, then it took off and the snake latched onto to its rear end and back legs. The fate of the frog was now determined (or so I thought). I had my camera over my shoulder, but by the time I could switch it on and zoom in on the action, the commotion seemed to be all over! It appeared that I had disturbed the snake to the point where it spat out the frog and proceeded to sit quietly, waiting for me to move away. As much as I like nature to be able to behave normally, my presence clearly “stuffed this up” for the snake, as after a minute or two the frog took off again bounding into the bushes – again with the snake swirling its way after it. Here is a short video of some of the action.

I did apologise to the snake for disturbing its lunch, but feel the Striped Marsh Frog was very relieved. I didn’t find any butterflies by the way, so the search for them continues. What an interesting encounter – get outside everyone and see what’s out there!

Bryan Haywood