Bullfrog Population Explosion

This weekend a lot of dirt was moved over at the Hermits’ Rest. We are making the little new pond bigger, since it will eventually be used for something good, I’m told. Now that the rains have slowed down, water is receding and it’s easier to dig. (About five minutes after I typed that, a rainstorm came through, but since it’s July, I doubt there will be much accumulation.)

As the dirt movement was going on, I thought it would be a good idea to re-check what’s in there.

I found two young turtles swimming around. And some dragonflies. Mostly, though, I saw members of the frog family.

A green pond and frogs.
The turtles are up near the top right. I think. But in this photo there are actually 14 frogs, at least. Some are in the water and some are on the shore.
Not one of the biggest ones, but you get the idea.

First I saw big ole bullfrogs sitting and floating. Then, as I looked harder, there were more and more.

At one point, I saw at least 14 of the frogs, some adults and others still young. Maybe you can see them in the photo at top, but you would really have to zoom in.

Another little one.

I guess we had a bumper crop of baby bullfrogs (I originally thought they were green frogs, but got corrected on iNaturalist).

Then, something moved. It was one of the Gulf coast toads we have lots of around the house. I know where that one came from, because Chris had just disturbed the home of a pair of them when fixing a death-trap hole near our water cutoff. They hopped on over to the pond in a huff. At least we didn’t hurt our buddies.

Hi. You messed with my house.

As I was enjoying how gigantic the toad was, my eye was drawn to what looked to be a very pretty rock, very close to the toad.

That was no rock, it was a leopard frog! So beautiful! I got all excited and tried to get some good photos, but didn’t want to scare it off. It doesn’t help that when it’s really sunny and my glasses turn dark, I can’t see the phone screen very well. Poo.

Leopard frog! Best photo I could get.

In any case, I’d never seen a leopard frog here, so that’s a new one to add to my list. That made my naturalist day!

Mr. Toad and Mr Frog.

Pretty soon, Penney dove in to take a little swim, and a great deal of splashing and “eep” noises ensued. That was the end of my fun with frogs and toads.

Who Knows the Difference between a Frog and a Toad?

Do you know how to tell a frog from a toad? Here are some hints from around the Hermits’ Rest.

I bet some of you know this, but I got two good example specimens that will help the rest of you. Both are big ones, which makes it easy to see. But they ARE trying to fool us.

Gulf Coast toad

How did I know this was a toad, sitting in the dog pond? First, she has warts. Toads are bumpy. Most toads hang out on land, but this one is in water, but not swimming. That’s normal. She also has relatively short hind legs, for walking, not hopping.

Pond with exit ramp. Yes, we empty it weekly for mosquito prevention.

The toads like to hang out in the dog pond so much that Lee built them an exit ramp. He said he saw a smaller one in there, too, so maybe mating was planned (males are smaller).

American bullfrog, in the chicken run.

This big fella we found when I moved the new chickens’ water dish. It’s as big as the toad, and too dark to be one of our green frogs. How did I know it was a frog, even though frogs are usually found in or near water and this one is on land?

Well, the skin is smooth (even in the blurry photo). And look at those legs! They are much longer than the toad’s! And it WAS right next to a water dish. I admit it is within a pretty short hopping distance of the pond behind our house, from which bullfrog croaks have been heard.

Our biggest green frog, ready to dive back in the pond. Finally an amphibious creature doing what it’s supposed to.

We are happy to have both the toad and the frogs around here. They eat bugs and all sorts of critters that need to have some population control!

By the way, a toad is a frog, but not all frogs are toads.

All the Best Intentions

Here’s another nature story from one of my friends. This one comes from our Austin neighbor, Ruth, also known as “the other Ruth,” because there are two women named Ruth in our book club. She lives just down the road and goes walking with Anita many mornings. Ruth always has a good story, and here’s the most recent one.

Yesterday, Ruth was in her yard checking on the plants and such, when she realized there was a nice-looking frog stuck in her swimming pool. Now, she is as much of a nature lover as any of us naturalists, and she had a good idea that the pool chemicals weren’t ideal from frogs to thrive in. Plus, there isn’t much to eat in there.

So, she decided to rescue it. She easily captured it and placed it in a plastic container. She figured that it would not be a good idea to just let it go, since it would have trouble finding a water source in our drought-stricken neighborhood (that’s why Anita’s toad friend loves the fact that she waters the plants on her balcony so well).

It’s a leopard frog, though I am not sure which one. They sure are pretty. Photo courtesy of Ruth.

The idea quickly came to Ruth that she could take it to nearby Bull Creek, which does still have some water running through it. So, she put the frog in her car and drove it down to the creek.

She carefully took it over to the creek’s edge, and happily set it free. Off it swam. For about five seconds. Frogs aren’t the only things that live in creeks. Apparently there are fish in there big enough to eat frogs.

Well, at least the frog died happy, and the fish got a meal. We give Ruth lots of props for her good intentions and kindness to the creatures of our community. And, like Ruth and Anita, I prefer to believe the frog escaped the snatches of the fish, and swam away, bruised but happy. She didn’t see the frog get swallowed. There’s always hope.

Frog-a-rama

One of Lee’s recent projects around the ranch has been to build a little pond for the dogs to play in, and to conveniently keep water from draining into our driveway and making puddles where we don’t want them. The new pond is like a puddle on purpose.

Thank you for the swimming pool! We love the frog toys!

And as you can easily see, the dogs do like it! The water is remarkably clean, for such a small “pond,”and both Vlassic and Carlton are frequently seen wading in it. Lee has further plans for water features, which are fine with me as long as there’s something in them to eat mosquito larvae.

That’s where the frogs come in

As I was wandering around the pond on Sunday, I noticed movements. First I saw a LOT of little bugs swimming around or on the surface. Then I realized tiny frogs were jumping into the pond whenever I or a dog startled them.

Waiting for bugs.

Careful observation and standing still a while brought the delightful realization that heads were poking up out of the water! The first head was of a small brown frog or toad, about four inches long. It suddenly snapped up a flying bug (scaring the bejeezus out of me) and disappeared.

Next, one of my favorite sights on the ranch greeted me. The “eeping” frogs have a representative in the pond. These are large frogs that are bright green with striking orange eyes. I’m guessing they are green frogs, though I can’t get close enough to get a good photo.

EEP!

Anyway, when frightened, these guys yell “eep” before jumping into the water. They were favorites of Brody’s. He’d run along the big pond and you’d hear a series of frog sounds all in a row.

So, it made me happy to see so much life in a pond that is really not much more than a large puddle and has only been around for two weeks!