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Amphibian Frog Aliens

Updated on December 14, 2011

Backstory -- She Hates Frogs!

Every weekday morning, there is no need for me to set the alarm clock. My day begins with the slam of a door, so loud and hard that it hakes the whole house.

A couple of minutes later, we then hear a more reasonable shutting of the front door, along with it being dutifully locked.

My adult daughter hates frogs ever since one landed on her head going out the door for work a few weeks ago. As she brushed it off the top of her head, it somehow managed to fall down the back of her blouse. This led her to do an embarrassing dance of fright in full view of the laughing neighbors across the street.

Our frogs are tree frogs, the kind with sucker discs on their toes. They hang out around the doors waiting for our many Florida insects to waltz across their dining table. The frogs aren't going away, so slamming the door really hard is her way of warning them -- "I hate frogs -- get out of my way!"

Paybacks, no matter how small, come with their own special brand of hell. Maybe I deserved it, after all, I had laughed when Janet was getting attacked by one of the slimy little aliens.

Still, in the shadows of sleep I don't expect to be rudely awakened by a full face attack. I wildly pried the green little creep off my face and flung him God only knows where. I swallowed and nearly choked on my silent scream, as I ran for the bathroom to wash my face.

Now, others might think that would be a strange reaction, but my reasoning was that if the cursed ones pee on your hand, who knows if they didn't have pee on their appendages before they assail your face?

Stepping back into the bedroom after arming myself with a flip-flop of a weapon, I valiantly and ever so quietly turned on a lamp. He had escaped.

As near as I could determine, Sir Practical Jokester was legitimately snoring. He was the sole reason I'd nearly strangled myself trying not to shriek.

No sense in giving him any ideas for big fun. I've been down that road too many times, waking up to string beans in my hands, a dog rooting in my ear for the popcorn he'd placed there. Never let him know your weaknesses is my wifely policy.

I am, of course, talking about the four legged amphibian who leaped on my face while I was sleeping. I never did find him. Hopefully, he won't become one of the skeletal petrified ones, like the one I recently found under a bookcase.

His five remaining buddies are always lurking around our veranda sliding glass doors. I guess they'll miss him. I won't.

The Wonderful Life Story of Some Common Frogs

Flying frog, Horned frog, Jumping frog, Grass frog, Moor frog, Pond frog, Spawn, and Tadpoles at various stages.  Art by ~ Jerilee Wei
Flying frog, Horned frog, Jumping frog, Grass frog, Moor frog, Pond frog, Spawn, and Tadpoles at various stages. Art by ~ Jerilee Wei

What is it that first lives in water and drowns in air, next lives in air and drowns in water, then buries itself at the bottom of water and breathes nothing?

That answer is, in one sentence, the life-story of our common frogs.

Frogs, together with toads, newts, and salamanders and a few other living forms belong to the great class of amphibians, or Amphibia. These are back-boned creatures that are able to breathe both water and air, though generally at different life-stages.

Probably most of us learned in elementary school the life-story of frogs. First the egg, one of a score or of hundred laid together in a mass. The egg is contained in a protecting capsule which takes up water when the egg is laid and swells almost to the size of a pea.

In it, is a considerable mass of yolk and the minute life-germ. The upper part is dark-colored, and this coloring helps to keep in heat from the atmosphere and so warm the germ into life.

After about five days, the egg hatches into a tadpole. A tadpole is a queer little sort of a fish, with external gills, no fins and no mouth, living on the capital with which he entered the world -- the unexhausted supplies of yolk from the egg.

In two or three days this is absorbed a mouth is formed with this is absorbed and a mouth is formed with horny jaws and lips intended only for rasping. Thus armed, the tadpole scratches off nutrient from vegetation from flesh, from anything that can be taken in the water.

Amazing and Miraculous Changes Soon Follow

The outer gills fade away and new ones develop internally. The water taken in through the mouth is squeezed out through a spiracle, surrendering its oxygen in the process.

Two limbs jut out toward the rear, but they are not yet needed for progress, as the rudder-like tail serves to propel our little friend about his business. Seven, eight, nine weeks pass, great alterations taking place slowly -- all at the same time.

The tadpole becomes less and less able to exist on the oxygen taken from water, and he becomes more and more to the surface to take gulps of air.

Lungs form before the gills have quite ceased to function, and for a short while the tadpole can breathe either water or air. The front legs appear and are thrust out of the openings that the gills first occupied.

The Greatest Transformation of All

Then comes the greatest transformation of all. The land begins to call, with promise of crisis -- the tadpole ceases to feed and his jaws begin to undergo a new change. However, there is a storehouse of nutrient in his big fat tail, and we watch day by day that this organ diminishes.

At last the hole transformation is accomplished, the old horny jaws drop off, and the tadpole has gone -- a tailed frog appears, as big as a button. The remnants of the tail are there and must be absorbed -- the the little frog is perfect.

There is now great peril in the tail. In climbing from the water to the land little froggie has to pass over parched stretches of bank, and repeatedly one has found that the moist tail, sticking to the surface, has sealed down its little owner and fixed it there to die, dried up in a pitiless sunshine.

Therefore, whereas a great tail may give a tadpole a richer store of food in the water than a small-tailed tadpole has, a baby frog which comes out of the water with too much tail left may never gain freedom ashore.

All these astonishing events are covered by the three months of spring. When full summer comes, the grog hides by day in damp places, and splashes for safety into rush waters when pressed. However, it can no longer live in the water. Its food-- insects, worms and slugs are found on land, and the frog must now have abundant air to breathe.

When autumn gives place to winter our cold-blooded little friend must betake himself again to his cradle. He plunges into the water, dives down into the mud at the bottom, falls asleep and rests there, the living image of a drowned frog. He bobs up serenely in the spring, and the water seems to boil with his activity and ardor.

Bullfrog tadpole
Bullfrog tadpole

That is the life-story in brief, of any of our common American frogs. The bullfrog, a tremendously long-lived animal, takes longer to reach maturity.

it requires three years to pass from the larval stage to the perfect. Some other frog tadpoles may have to wait for a second summer before they can make the great transition, if food is scarce.

Frogs and toads have much in common, yet there are notable differences. The toad is shorter of limb than the frog. Instead of leap, the toad sometimes crawls.

Also whereas the frog must keep a moist environment, the toad is formed so that he can carry sufficient moisture within his skin to enable him to live for great periods while he is apparently fasting.

American Bullfrog
American Bullfrog

The Stuff of Legends

This thought leads to the legends running through literature concerning toads having survived alive sealed up in rocks and coal for ages. There is not a worth of truth in these reports.

Toads may have been in rocks for a few months, possibly years, but if so they have crawled there when tiny, have lived on insects that have crept into their retreats, and have grown too fat to escape from their prison.

Argentine Horned Toad (not dwarf)
Argentine Horned Toad (not dwarf)

Argentine Horned Toads and the Solomon Island Frog

There are multitudes of species of toads and frogs. South America has a toad over eight inches long and weighing over one and one-half pounds.

However, Africa has one an inch and a half larger than that -- a toad that eats several mice and similar creatures at a single meal. The American bullfrog is also a monster in the frog world.

At the other end of the scale is a dwarf Argentine toad only an inch long, which pipes and twitters in the love season like a goldfinch. The nest may be in a tree trunk, in leaves drawn together by the cunning of the parents, or in the hollows of rocks.

A frog of the Solomon Islands has no tadpole stage. It passes through all its changes in the egg and comes forth a tiny frog ready to face the world.

One of the male frogs takes the eggs as they are laid by the female, wraps them about his hind legs and carries them with him till they hatch. He hides by day in some moist hollow in the bank of a pond, and only when his little ones are ready to emerge as tadpoles does he go into the water.

Surinam Toad female with eggs on her back
Surinam Toad female with eggs on her back

Surinam Toad

Stranger still is the nursery habit of the Surinam toad. The eggs are squeezed out by the male and spread in a layer over the back of the female.

At this season the skin on the back of the female is abnormally thick and soft, and the eggs are retained by it like magic, and then quickly overgrown.

Each egg has its own little cell on the back of the living incubator. The eggs may number from sixty to one hundred and twenty. There they lie for three months. In that time all the necessary stages are passed through, and the mother is carrying a whole population of little toads on her back.

Red Eyed Tree Frog
Red Eyed Tree Frog

The Cradle of the Tree Frog

Then there is the dainty cradle of certain tree frogs. Here the parents hold together the edges of leaves, or double one large leaf into a cup.

In such a receptacle the mother lays her eggs, the glutinous nature of which serves to hold the side of the leaf-cradle in positiion. Tadpoles come forth from this cradle in the tree, slip down into the water, and undergo transformation there.

Some varieites of tree frogs, completely differ. Froth safely houses the eggs of a West African and a Brazilian tree frog, whose tadpoles have to complete their change in their castles of foam, for they die if immersed in water.

American Green Tree Song

Did You Know?

  • ¬†Frogs sometimes eat enough fireflies that they themselves glow.

Darwin's Frog
Darwin's Frog

Darwin's Frog

One other strange case should be noted, the most startling of all. This is a Chilean frog named after Darwin. Dangers must long have threatened the career of this species, for the anxious male will not trust the precious eggs to chance.

He takes them into his mouth and there hatches them after long weeks of waiting. This amazing process is brought about by a striking pouch his young pass from egg to complete frog.

Cameleon frog
Cameleon frog

The frogs that have taken to trees have little sucker discs on the toes to give a grip on the smooth surface of the leaves. However, they also possess in greater measure than any other species the power to alter their color rapidly.

In changing their hue to match the general tint around them they almost rival the chameleon. Another admirable adaptation of the tree frogs is their power to sit in the scorching sun without harm.

I've been facinated by frogs and toads since I was a young girl and read The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, by Mark Twain. 

Even though I clearly have had a few issues the frog who woke me up -- We ought to think highly of the toads and frogs. They eat insects harmful to us and every garden should have its toads and frogs. Truth be known --- I think frogs and toads are pretty wonderful amphibians.

Serious Frog Jumping - Calavera's County


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    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks E. Nicolson! Some of your articles are quite interesting too.

    • E. Nicolson profile image

      E. Nicolson 

      9 years ago

      Really interesting read -- thank you.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks RNMSN! We'd sweep them away from the doors except for the fact that this development was a pristine nature preserve prior to developers getting their hands on 40% of it -- so insects are an even bigger problem and they keep the population down. Still, I sometimes have murderous thoughts too.

      Thanks Egoodman!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very interesting hub. Congrats

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 

      9 years ago from Tucson, Az

      oohhhh gross but its always a fun and interesting read JeriLee!! I fear I have to side with Janet o this fact I think I'd be sweeping them away from thedoorjam!! gross let them catch their insects on the OTHER side of the canal!!! wonder if ice cream salt sprinkled on the gutter or the overhang of the door?

      WHAT? it works on slugs!!

      OK OK PETA People! they are everywhere (Barbara goes off stage with nose high in indignant pout!) :) great article JeriLee love to you!

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Flightkeeper!

    • Flightkeeper profile image


      9 years ago from The East Coast

      Holy bullfrog, if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I wouldn't have believed it. I didn't know that bullfrogs are canibalistic. Thanks Jerilee.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Nancy's Niche! I need to get that next armadillo one done here soon, so many on my to do list :D

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 

      9 years ago

      Great article Jerilee! Frogs are interesting little creatures I look forward to your article on the Armadillo!

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks lorlie6! Life is always funny to me.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      9 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      I thoroughly enjoy your style here, your humor!

      Thanks, Jerilee!

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks GusTheRedneck! I find your own articles just as interesting and well written.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      9 years ago from USA

      Jerrilee - I always look forward to reading your articles because they a always interesting and well written. Gus

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Frieda Babbley! I wasn't surprised about them eating scorpions because I'd seen it in Arizona but was surprised at what else the bullfrogs ate.

      Sometimes its fun to start out with a good morning laugh at life's little excitements. By the time I fell back asleep I was giggly at my reaction remembering how it felt to have his sticky little padded feet when I pried him off.

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 

      9 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Grody bommer! Bullfrogs do eat everything. How bizarre. Watching was just wonderfully gross. I'm glad I had the stomach for that one this morning! Excellent video find! Who knew? I most certainly didn't.

      Your intro story cracked me up to all ends. What a delightful treat (no pun inteded) this article was this morning. Thanks loads!


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