On Bipeds & Brutes

National Museum of Animals & Society Blog

April is National Frog Month

A Australian Green Tree Frog

Image via Wikipedia

Frogs are pretty remarkable. For starters, their ancestors are as old as dinosaurs, living nearly 370 million years ago and looking very much like four-legged fish. The reason for their survival  has to do with their extraordinary adaptability. With a webbed foot in the water and another on land, frogs straddle two worlds and get the best of both: food and refuge from predators. They can live in desert, arctic and tropical landscapes and on every continent minus Antarctica. And some, like the Australian water-holding frog, can go without water for up to 7 years, burrowing underground and encasing himself within a skin shed!

April is National Frog Month and a perfect time to catch the springtime mating sounds frogs emanate and check out the state of the neighborhood’s leaping residents. Frogs can serve as an important environmental indicator. In some habitats, nearly 60% of them are deformed from pesticide use, harmful UV-B rays from a weakened ozone layer or cyst-causing flatworm parasites.

We’ll be presenting frog-related entries all week in recognition of the month-long celebration. Here are a few ideas to get the party started:

  • Play Leap Frog! Always a classic, this game involves taking turns to jump over one another, while the other person is squatted in front.
  • Build a pond at home or school for your frog friends.  Find a large plant saucer or other suitable container to nestle in the ground. Fill it with water, add rocks (enough so that frogs can rest on them) and perhaps some water plants.
  • Become a naturalist for a day. Investigate ponds, lakes and streams for bellowing frogs, jelly-like clumps of their eggs in the water, and swimming tadpoles. Re-visit these spots to see how the young frogs are progressing. This is a great way to learn about a frog’s life cycle.
  • Hold a jumping contest. The farthest jumping frog was Santje of South Africa who leapt an astounding 33 feet and 5 ½ inches!
  • Opt for computer, video or plastic models when faced with school-led frog dissections. It’s not only more humane, but environmentally-friendly and just as effective in conveying the same knowledge.

Keep posted tomorrow for frog folklore!

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