Posted by: ktzefr | May 17, 2012

A frog is a frog is a frog…

unless it’s a toad.

When I was growing up in Kentucky we didn’t make a distinction between the two.  We called them all toadfrogs and we were warned not to handle them.  Kissing a frog would not turn him into a prince.  But, if he/she peed on you it could cause warts.

I went through a short spell during elementary school when I had warts on both hands in spite of the fact that I had not played with frogs.  Then an old woman stopped at our store one day who said she could get rid of them.   She was a fortune teller, a “witch” of sorts according to rumors, and may have been lucky to have lived in the 20th century in Kentucky instead of  the 17th in Massachusetts.   In any case, she took an ordinary #2 pencil and made a circle around each wart, while all the time whispering words I’d never heard.  Did she make them up as she went?  I’m sure she didn’t speak a second language, but the words sounded exotic.   In any case, a few weeks later — POOF! — every single wart was gone.  (I had also been using generous amounts of Compound W on a regular basis.)

Anyway, back to frogs.  We have a yard full of them and they sing day and night.  They’re especially lively after a rain, so this week I’ve enjoyed the spring chorus every day.  I found this little fellow sitting behind a fern on my deck.  He’s only about 2 inches wide. 

Cope’s Gray Tree Frog; Photo:KFawcett

I believe he’s a Cope’s Gray Tree Frog, a Hyla chrysoscelis, though I could be wrong.  On a Google search I discovered several frogs that look like this one, but they all sound different.  At this site, the Virginia Herpetological Society, you can listen to the song of each type of frog.  That’s how I settled on the Cope’s.  They have lovely voices for a frog choir.

The Cope’s Gray Tree Frogs are unusual, too, as they handle cold temperatures by literally freezing.  They have been known to survive temperatures as low as 21 F for several days when more than 40% of their body fluids may be completely frozen.   They are able to produce large amounts of glycerol in their blood and body tissues, which acts as a natural antifreeze to prevent ice from forming inside their cells.   They are survivors and the frog chorus increases in number with each new season.

Every spring for the past three or four years we have found a little frog (this one or one of his/her relatives) living in our grill on the deck.  It has become routine, every time we fire up the grill, to check first for the frog.  When he’s crouched in his favorite corner, we put him in a saucepan or bowl until dinner is over and the grill has cooled.  Then he gets to go back to his spot near the drip pan, which is apparently a grand meeting place for tiny flying things.  When we eat ribs or chicken or hamburgers, he gets to eat, too.







  1. I’ve seen about a half dozen of them over the past week at Jefferson Memorial Forest outside of Louisville.

    • They seem to be pretty common & I enjoy listening to them sing.

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