You know spring is on its way when you take a little walk past a pond or new body of water, like a big puddle on the lawn, and hear frog calls at night. Late February or early March, the male frogs, especially the “spring peepers,” call for their girlfriends to come out. They can be in the trees or near a body of water, calling “beep, peep, peep,” in the early eve (after sundown), the darkness some protection against predators.

It’s an interesting thing about frogs. They can hibernate (slow down their bodily functions, a bit like a bear) but since they are cold-blooded, if there’s a really warm day in the winter, they may also warm up and move about. And they can hibernate, according to the National Wildlife Federation, even in a pool. How is this possible?  Isn’t the water too cold? Don’t full-grown frogs have lungs? Well no, and yes. But frogs can have a type of antifreeze in the blood. And they can breathe, but when needed, also through their skin or mouth lining. Wow, they are versatile, highly unique critters! Kermit, you- all know how to adapt! Frogs can also hibernate (or brumate) under logs and leaf litter, which may be where the spring peepers go.

The female once attracted to the male, deposits eggs the male fertilizes, and she produces up to 1,200 eggs. It’s not sexy but it does the job. But the developing babies, or tadpoles, have to watch out for predators, a reason why the frogs reproduce in a pond or vernal (temporary spring) pool that doesn’t have fish in it, most often. Once frogs grow up and leave the water, they become a food source for everyone, from bigger frogs to snakes to bobcats and foxes. The woods need these critters and these critters need their vernal pools. Human development is destroying all their permanent and temporary habitats. Next time your town wants to develop a shopping mall, see if it destroys a pond or vernal pool in the process. A frog will thank you.

Frogs, different species, will call from spring through part of summer. In my part of the world alone, there are 14 different types of frogs, including the American toad, the bullfrog, the green frog, the upland chorus frog, the Eastern spadefoot, spring peepers, gray and green treefrogs, all with different calls. I listen for them once a week during the spring season. It takes a little training to do this. Just google “Frogwatch” and find out a little bit more. Yes, amphibians are such a big part of the forest habitat. We need to keep them going. The upland chorus frog, with its song-like dragging your finger along the top of a comb, is especially unique.

One summer it rained for a month in a little pool we had out back I could sit in and relax. After that month, I saw lines in it – tiny tadpoles, also called polliwogs, moving around. I researched online and found out they need grass and boiled lettuce that is frozen and then thawed out, among other things. After four months many had still not developed both front and back legs, so I took them in a bucket to a small lake nearby. I hope they were safe there as it didn’t have much in the way of fish. Yes, frogs are unique and worth saving.

Image by D. J. Mathews, drawing of a young green frog.

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