Forrest Gump might say that cleaning bullfrogs is like opening a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get.
Charlie LaRose has seen turtles, baby cottonmouths, other frogs and plenty of crawfish in the bellies of bullfrogs he’s pulled from Maurepas Swamp, but the veteran frogger from Reserve got a shock this weekend when he saw firsthand what a big frog he caught Saturday night had recently swallowed whole.
“It messed my head all up,” LaRose said. “I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
The frog, which had a noticeable bulge in his belly, had apparently just devoured a 6-inch rat shortly before LaRose and his buddy Barry Jacob grabbed him.
“All the frogs that we catch always have crawfish in them, and this one frog had a big belly. I said, ‘Man, that’s a big crawfish in there. I want to see just how big that crawfish is,’” said LaRose, 37, who cleaned the frogs Sunday evening. “When I pulled the belly off and I squeezed, that’s when the rat came out.”
The two men caught 17 frogs in about an hour Saturday night. LaRose believes the rat, which sported a 7-inch tail, had probably become dinner shortly before the frog was captured.
“There is no way that frog swallowed that thing while the rat was alive. It must have grabbed it and jumped in the water and drowned it before he swallowed it,” LaRose said. “Because that rat would have tore him up.”
But Dr. Greg Lutz, aquaculture professor with the LSU AgCenter, said bullfrogs are known for their big appetites.
“Bullfrogs are actually voracious,” Lutz wrote in an email. “They really will try to eat anything they can swallow.”
LaRose called Jacob over to show him what was inside the frog’s belly. Along with the rat, the frog also had consumed two small crawfish as well.
“I said, ‘You don’t think that’s the first time that frog ever ate a rat?’ Barry said, ‘Probably not.
“‘Look what we’re eating — we’re eating something that eats rats.’”
Despite his surprise find on Sunday, LaRose said he and his friends will be ready to go when frog season reopens at 12:01 a.m. on June 1.
And they just might have found a new method of rodent control in the process.
“Barry said we need to stop catching frogs and start putting them around the camp to eat all the rats,” LaRose said with a laugh.