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As babies fresh in the world, first words are always a milestone. It seems as though such a momentous occasion as the first time a child utters a word should predicate a lifetime of celebrating what the child has to say – but very surprisingly, the exact opposite often happens. All of a sudden, the child has to listen, only speak when spoken to, be seen and not heard, et cetera.

But it’s not only the parent who must listen. The child too, must pay close attention to himself/herself as the years begin to tick by. Years ago, it was easy to pay attention to one’s mind as it grew – not so much now – as pacifiers have been replaced with tablets; so the brain is consistently being stimulated externally. Anyway, that’s a whole other topic.

My point is, listen to your children. They will charter their own course as their world is completely different from yours.

When I was a child, I could never get enough documentaries to watch. What did that teach me? That if a ever see a snake grab something, things are going to get interesting.

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The snake will definitely not release its grip on its meal, no matter what happens. Even if its meal turns out to be a Milk Frog, which explains its generous secretions.

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Perhaps this Parrot Snake is not bothered too much by the sticky slime being exuded by its intended meal. Frantic, the frog gulps air in an attempt to be bigger than usual.

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Nature documentaries also taught me that snakes’ jaws unhinge, so even though the Milk Frog is almost three times the size of this snake’s head, all it takes is a little patience. And of course, jaws that walk.

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Snakes don’t move their prey down their throat like we do, instead their jaws and backward-facing teeth pull their body over the prey.

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Of course, it’s a process that takes awhile. But by this time, the venom delivered by the rear fangs of this gorgeous reptile starts to do its duty. The evening sun returned, and the slime from the frog had collected a plethora of leaf litter – making grabbing an image difficult at best.

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Struggling to separate frog from debris, the snake retreated under the leaves as it was trying to get its entire meal down the hatch without ingesting any unwanted salad. I lay in place, waiting excitedly for a moment I knew would come. I couldn’t resist making this image of piece of a coil of this beautiful snake – one that I’ve always wanted to get a photo of – just look at those colours!

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Eventually, the Parrot Snake emerged from the leaf litter, sans frog but completely covered in sticky slime.

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I wouldn’t have a clue as to what to do if I was covered in slime and had no hands or feet, I can say that for sure. But bit by bit, this determined dirty snake cleaned itself on every surface it encountered.

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But I was still poised, just as the predator always is, waiting for the best moment to strike. Finally, it came. Another blessed tidbit of information from my beloved nature documentaries – once a snake unhinges its jaws to swallow its meal, it must stretch them and pop them back in place.

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I would’ve never known most of what I know about animals if it wasn’t for all the wildlife films I’ve seen both as a child and as an adult. From Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom to National Geographic Wild, from the dearly departed Steve Irwin to the everliving Sir David Attenborough to the snakemaster extraordinaire Austin Stevens – and there are so many others – I will never finish giving thanksĀ for the priceless knowledge and inspiration to be what I am today.


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