Posts Tagged ‘Gamcare’

Read in Tooth and Claw…

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I watched a toad being eaten alive by a snake in the swamps of New Orleans a few years ago.  It was such a forgotten moment, it only came back to me just now – I don’t know why, no reason, it just did.

I was taking a leak in the swamp as my friends walked ahead of me. I couldn’t hold it in any longer, so I made my excuses and asked them to walk on while I stopped to relieve myself. There’s no greater pleasure in life than being busting for a piss and suddenly getting the chance to go, so I let loose the juice and rolled my eyeballs up to the sky in pleasured satisfaction.

Half way though, I looked down to see where my streak of piss was falling and I saw the drama unfolding. Toad half caught in the snake’s mouth, slowly being digested. My streak of piss was hitting the snake on the forehead and he wasn’t best pleased about it, but the toad was looking up at me with hopeful eyes that I was suddenly giving him an unexpected ‘get out clause’.  The whole thing was such a moment of nature that I’d stumbled upon, something that happens a billion times every day, all across the world in all species on our planet – except for humans, because ‘Survival of the Fittest’ – (thank god) doesn’t apply to us for some reason, otherwise I’d be screwed.

So I was watching this kill, trying to aim my piss streak away from  the snake and the toad now I’d become aware of their struggle, not wishing to play God to either.  The snake was gumming down on the toad, no teeth, no instant kill, just a slow and implacable swallow. The toad was screeching out with each gulp of the snake’s jaws each time the pressure hit its stomach, a high-pitched and involuntary squeak like one of those rubber toys a dog bites.

I continued to relieve myself against the mangrove tree, breathing in the evening air heavy with scent. Should I have stopped this secret murder? I had the power to play God and fix the odds in this unseen moment. But I reminded myself that either way I’d have been interfering with nature’s order. I’m not sure who I even wanted to win anyway. So I zipped up my pants and walked on, the sound of the toad’s gurgling matched to the guzzling gulps of the snake getting ever softer, echoing against the tree bark.

At the limit of my hearing as I reached my friends I heard what sounded like a snake coughing.  Maybe it had worked out for the toad after all?

Who knows? I never read the result in the papers…