Sri Lanka’s Bronzeback Snake vs. Indian Frog

by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

February 20th, 2015


One of the wonderful things about Sri Lanka is living so close to nature, although often the natural cycle can expose itself somewhat brutally in terms of life and inevitable death. It’s no wonder the concept of reincarnation is so strong in the Buddhist beliefs here, daily exposure to the natural worlds recycling technologies means the underpinning of reincarnation is a viable way to understand the rather too quaintly titled “circle of life”. That’s only half the equation, the circle of death stands by opposing it.

A faint splash and movement in my ornamental pond at home caught my eye, and I noticed a common Indian Frog belly up in the water. Still alive, it was obviously not in a good way. Looking closer I noticed the reason – a smallish, brown snake had bitten its leg and was hanging onto it. Given the frog was faintly protesting and upside down, I suspect the snake had injected some mild venom, although later identifying it as a Sri Lankan Bronzeback my reference guides tell me it is harmless. My staff however said it was poisonous, but they say that about all snakes, just to be careful. My guess is that the Bronzeback is mildly venomous – toxic enough to render frogs senseless, but not enough for humans. A few brief, failing twitches and the snake delivered the coup de grace, diving below and finishing the frog off by drowning it. Both disappeared below the murky pond waters and all was deathly quiet.



Early the next morning, I spotted the Snake again, still in the pond, but with a conspicuous bulge. What was a Frog was becoming Snake. The Bronzeback lay there, fat and heavy, across the Lily Pads. It’s at this stage that the Snake is most vulnerable, it cannot move quickly, and it needs a lot of energy to digest. It spent most of the day sunning itself, resting after having gorged itself on Indian Pond Frog, yet able to just slip back into the limpid waters should danger approach. The next day it had gone, presumably making a bolt for a hole somewhere to sleep off its gluttony and digest in quiet.