G’Day! My topic today is frogs, as suggested in the title. Why frogs? you might ask. I don’t know, I might answer. I suppose the inspiration came from my window. I have a large window that overlooks a little pond and fernery. During the summer the frogs like to climb up the window to watch me watching telly. Or maybe they’re just chasing the bugs that are trying to get to the light. Either way, I enjoy watching them. It rained yesterday, so last night was a three-frog night. This morning I went out to look at another pond which very recently was teeming with squillions of tadpoles. Today the number is down to hundreds. I wish I’d been there to watch the exodus of all those new frogs, freshly graduated from tadpole school. Many of them would be Pobblebonks, which I believe I’ve written about here before.
Anyway, it brought me to the computer to look around for some frog facts. And, oh my! I found oodles. In fact, although I intended to look at other creepy-crawlies as well as frogs, just a brief search spawned more fun frog facts than I could manage. So here goes.
Did you know, for example, that certain frogs can be frozen solid, then thawed, and continue living. During winter hibernation, the common wood frog stops its heart and brain and freezes into what looks and feels like a frog-shaped ice cube. (aren’t you glad to have that image in your head forever more?) Medical scientists are more than a little excited about this, because it offers them not only the chance to learn how to freeze themselves for future thawing, but it provides other valuable information as well. They are hoping it might help them to gain insights that may aid the process of human organ transplants.
Speaking of lessons that medical researchers are trying to learn from frogs, there used to be a frog in northern Australia called the Gastric Brooding Frog, which incubated its young inside it’s tummy…then the baby frogs came hopping out of its mouth when they developed legs. Scientists were hoping to learn how this species managed to “turn off” production of hydrochloric acid (the digestive juices) when brooding the froglets, but, alas, the Gastric Brooding Frogs disappeared not long after being discovered and are now believed to be extinct.
Another species of frog with slightly odd breeding (or brooding) habits is the Darwin’s Frog. (Yes, it was named after Charles Darwin, who discovered it on his world voyage.) Anyway, this little frog (only an inch in length) lives in cool streams in the forests of South America The female lays about 30 eggs, which are then guarded by the male for about 2 weeks. Then he picks up all the surviving tadpoles and carries them around in his vocal pouch– the baggy chin skin–while they feed off their egg yolk. Once they become tiny froglets (about half an inch long) they hop out and swim away! How cool is that!? I reckon mama frog has found a nifty way to keep papa frog quiet for a few weeks after she’s layed her eggs.
At the other end of the spectrum–from cool to creepy–how about this: The poison-dart frog is said to have enough poison to kill 2,200 people! Now, what I want to know is, how does anyone actually know that? Has one of them ever killed 2,200 people? I rather doubt it. He is a rather handsome little dude, though, isn’t he?
Named for the toxins in their skin, poison dart frogs are small, vibrantly colored amphibians that live in tropical rainforests. Their bright colors serve as a warning to predators that they are harmful to eat. The red poison dart frog inhabits rainforests of the Caribbean coast of Central America. During breeding season, male frogs defend a small patch of the forest floor where they display their colors and chirp to attract a female. Male poison dart frogs are good fathers, responsible for guarding and tending the eggs after mating, and keeping them moist by transporting water (or even peeing on the eggs!) until they hatch.
POISON DART FROG } Dendrobates pumilioRANGE: Central America (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama)STATUS: Poison dart frogs are Abundantthroughout much of their range, but some local populations are experiencing increased threats.THREATS: Collection for pet trade; impacts from development, tourism and cultivation of forests
Photo courtesy Wikipedia creative commons
There is also a golden poison-dart frog that is said to be able to kill up to 1,500 people with its poison. That’s much more believable. Now here’s something you may not have known. Scientists on a space mission discovered that a frog can throw up. That’s no big deal by itself, as my cat, Sophie, has demonstrated numerous times, but the frog throws up its whole stomach first, so the stomach is dangling out of its mouth. It then uses its forearms to dig out all of the stomach’s contents, and then swallows the stomach back down again. Not something I particularly want to witness, but it is certainly interesting… Now, whenever I’m digging through my purse to find something–a not uncommon occurrece–I’ll have that image of a frog digging through its stomach… Oh, yuck!
An Australian Green Tree Frog Newscom photo
If you want to see some really beautiful, amazing, weird, and downright goofy looking frogs, check out these websites for some great photos.
This could go on forever, but I can’t. I’ll sign off with a wee reminder (though not frog-related). It’s the festive season (as you may already have noticed) so just remember:
You are more likely to be killed by a Champagne cork than by a poisonous spider.
Happy Holidays! rrribit..rrribit..rrribit..rribit rribit MM