Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Our earliest frogs

Of all of Ohio's frogs, the Wood Frog is best suited for winter.   Early spring fluctuates wildly from  balmy breezes with temperatures spiking into the 50-60's to cold windy, snow-splattered days. Wood Frog isn't phased. Truly a cold weather frog, range maps indicate their presence well into Alaska. This freeze-tolerant species can really "break the ice" at those vernal pool parties.

Wood Frog,       photo by John Howard
What to wear?  Wood Frogs' skin coloring ranges from tans and browns to PINK?  And, they have a "bandit' mask like a raccoon!  Did I mention their calls sound like a duck's "quack" or "clack"?  Seriously, it is all true.  You just can't make up stories like this! 

Once I found Wood Frogs on my property, my whole life changed.  Who could imagine a frog that lives in a forest and only visits the water once a year?  Endlessly fascinating and barely known among "'normal" people. Certainly, if I have the power, they would be protected in my own yard.  Thus, the vernal pool in the side yard was reclaimed from the drainage-tiled lawn.

Wood Frogs in amplexus,     photo by John Howard

"How about a hug, big girl?"  The males (on top) are slightly smaller, but their forearms and thumbs are swollen to a larger-than-normal size in the spring.  "All the better to clasp you with, my Dear." 
This is called amplexus- the male holds tight and fertilizes the female's eggs as they are being laid.

Wood Frog eggs,   photo by John Howard

Frog and salamander eggs can be distinguished by numerous characteristics.  Wood Frogs lay small eggs in clumps. Toads lay their aquatic eggs in strings or lines.  Salamaders' eggs are often "glued" to a stick or stem protruding from the water.
Spring is well upon us, and I hope you will take advantage of the excitement that only occurs this time of year.  Spring Peepers, Wood Frogs and many other amphibians are gathering at a vernal pool near you. 
Go ahead.  Look a little...  I won't tell.

No comments:

Post a Comment