thoughtsfromthepanda

I do my best thinking while driving. I drive a Fiat Panda.

Archive for the tag “amphibian”

Cherishing the frogs

In my last blog, I wrote about ‘the joy of frogs’ and I said I thought it was our collective duty to cherish them when they crossed our paths.

Well, nature took me at my word and threw down the challenge. We’ve had tiny frogs crossing our family path this week, in relative abundance. I’m not sure where they came from but I think they might have been washed into our property from a neighbour’s garden higher up the hill.

Two nights ago, there was a tremendous thunderstorm in our area and in the morning, Matthew’s sharp eyes spotted some tiny frogs jumping around the tiled pathway behind our kitchen. When I say tiny, I mean they were about the size of my pinkie fingernail (that’s Liam’s hand in the photo, by the way, but it’s still a good reference, as his hands are now about the same size as mine).

tiny frog and Liam's hand

So Liam and I got into the act. Matthew disappeared to do other things because he doesn’t really like ‘tiny creatures’ right now. But that’s okay. He’ll get there.

Anyway, Liam and I went about catching froglets so that we could transfer them to a section of the garden where they would have moisture, plants and soil instead of sunshine, tiles and no protection, which would, of course, inevitably have fried them and made us very sad.

Liam and baby frog

All told, we transported almost 20 little frogs to this section of the garden, which is secluded from our dogs and cats. In the process, we also rescued a tiny toad, which Matthew had spotted lying on its back looking very poorly. It had been flipped over, somehow, and on the smooth tiled surface been unable to right itself.

So we righted it, and we transplanted it. If you look very carefully at the picture you can see the ‘toadlet’ on the leaf and you can see that it’s about double the size of the froglet.

tiny frog and baby toad

And I’m happy to tell you that when I tried to coax the little toad onto the leaf before I put it carefully into the catchment container, it puffed itself up very crossly. This, I believe, is a toad-ish protection mechanism, so I was delighted that it seemed to be recovering quite well from its upside-down ordeal.

Anyway, we transplanted between 16 and 20 froglets into our ‘secret garden’, in the end. I don’t expect them all to stay there forever, and I know that some of them will escape as fast as they can, and possibly come to grief sooner rather than later, but we just wanted to give them a fighting chance while they were so small.

So we cherished our frogs, in our garden, and it felt good.

 

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The joy of frogs

We’ve had a pretty dry, hot summer here in Joburg and so, somewhat unusually for us sun lovers, the rain – when it fell – was almost uniformly welcomed, rather than receiving its more normal reaction of mutterings, grumbles and epithets.

It really has been quite unbelievably hot at times, so the cooling rains made us feel as though we could all breathe again.

I was driving back from work recently during a really brilliant rain storm and I chose to take a scenic detour past one of the city’s big parks, which fortunately for me is on one of my possible routes home. To my great delight, the frogs from the park had come out in force from their usual hiding places, so I spent a particular section of the road driving carefully in the gloom to make sure I drove around and not over them.

frog sitting in road

They don’t have much road sense, frogs. Luckily it’s usually a fairly quiet road.

I thought they looked so sweet sitting in the puddles soaking up the water. At that moment, it seemed that every fibre of their little froggy beings was devoted to staying plonked on their haunches looking up at the falling raindrops, as if to say, “We love you! Where have you been?”

frogs in rain

I was similarly thrilled when I was at home one night during another recent downpour and I suddenly saw, through a window, our resident froggy shuffling along in a dignified manner just outside. So I went out into the darkness to say hello and get a closer look at him (well, in my head it’s a him), and again I watched the joy that frogs display when the rains bucket down all over their bodies.

I understand that the presence of frogs tends to be a good barometer of an environment’s overall health, so as a family we’ve always been thrilled to find evidence of a frog or two in our garden. On an infamous occasion a few years ago, Frank even scolded our then-tenant for getting in the frog’s way and inadvertently scaring it: “K! Don’t hurt my frog!”

As our young tenant had got an enormous fright herself when the silly frog unexpectedly jumped up on her leg in the gloom of a summer dusk, she was not impressed at playing second fiddle to an amphibian. But she did laugh at the incident a bit later (when her adrenaline levels were back to normal).

On a more serious note, I am always saddened when I read about frogs dying en mass in different parts of the world due to factors like pollution, vanishing habitats, alien predators and strange microbial illnesses. While I don’t necessarily want to pick up a frog and pet it…

tiny frog on finger

…in the same way that I don’t necessarily want to stroke a Great White shark on the snout, I like the idea of the presence of frogs in our world (and Great Whites in our oceans: I don’t want one in our local public swimming pool, thanks very much).

 

These gutsy amphibians are so varied, for starters: we get little delicate tree frogs and big ponderous bull frogs; sombre-coloured grey and brown frogs versus multi-coloured frogs that are tinged with blue, yellow or red; and frogs that actually lay nests for their tadpoles in trees.

blue frog

Frogs and toads have been around for such a long time on the planet that I think it’s our collective duty to cherish them when they do come out to say hello.

frogs crossing sign

I would really hate to think that one day in the future, my children might look around in a rainstorm in a park for the frogs that should be jumping all around their legs, and say, into a deafening absence, “We love you! Where have you gone?”

frog peaking water

 

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