EmmaWithFrog

A young Emma holding a frog; Photo courtesy of Emma Horrigan

One of my first introductions to nature as a kid was observing tadpoles on the Toronto Islands and catching frogs at the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. No outdoor adventure was complete without looking for and finding frogs.

After you’ve been in the business of catching frogs for over 20 years, you know that it takes dexterity and patience! My time spent watching these animals has given me a great appreciation for their unique biology. On World Frog Day, here are some of the reasons why I love frogs (and you should, too).

They like to sing in the rain. The high-pitched call of spring peepers with the first warm rainy nights of spring is a welcome sign that warmer weather is on its way.

Spring peeper

Spring peeper; Credit: Joe Crowley

They have superhero powers. Frogs possess some superhero-like characteristics. The gray treefrog is a lichen mimic and has the ability to change colour from green to gray to olive-brown, based on the temperature and light, in order to blend into its surrounding environment. This species, as well as others in the Treefrog or Hylidae family, have sticky toepads that allow them to climb vertically.

Gray treefrog

Gray treefrog; credit: Joe Crowley

They know how to stay cool. In order to survive the cold Canadian winters, frogs use cryoprotectants, which act like anti-freeze by protecting their tissues from damage caused by ice crystal formation.

Gray treefrog

Gray treefrog; Credit: Camille Tremblay Beaulieu

They really know how to make things stick. The saliva on a frog’s soft, sling shot-like tongue is 50,000 times stickier than human saliva, and a recent study shows that frogs use their eyes to help unstick prey from their tongue into their stomach.

Bullfrog

Bullfrog; Credit: Brad Thompson

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Emma Horrigan is Ontario Nature’s conservation science coordinator.