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Freaky Frogs

Freaky Frogs

Freaky Friday

This year the frog population around my home has been amazing. The frog songs at night are nearly deafening, we can hear them through closed doors and windows, with the air conditioner and the television on.  (I attached a video at the bottom of the page illustrating just how loud they get around our pool.)  However, I am a fan of frogs.  When we first moved from the city to our five acres, I read an article stating that frogs were the first species to die or croak (excuse the pun) when an area is polluted. So, a high population of frogs meant that your environment was clean.

I also love when the frogs (and toads) come up to the house to visit.  Often at night, we have several white-bellied, green-skinned frogs plastered against the outside of our windows, waiting for any unsuspecting insect who is drawn in by the light.  I used to have a silver toad who had somehow climbed up to the second-floor roof and would sit underneath my office window and chirp happily all day long. (His ribbit actually sounded like a bird!)  I thought he was kind of magical and loved that he kept me company as I wrote.

So, for today’s Freaky Friday, I thought I’d explore a little bit more about those leaping, croaking and singing amphibians who live among us.

Animal World.com writes that frogs are symbols of good luck: “I really like frogs, but when you think about what a frog is… it’s a cold-blooded amphibian. It lives mostly in a watery or humid environment, though there are some exceptions in toads, and it can lay many eggs at one time. Great for reproduction! Thus, the frog became a symbol for fertility, and safe travel as well. Here’s some of what’s attributed to the frog as a bearer of good fortune:

Good Luck
In Japan, frogs are a symbol of Good Luck, and the Romans believed that to have a frog would bring good luck into the home. The Irish on the other hand, consider the frog as a close relative of the leprechaun, and thus very capable of playing tricks on you.

Fertility
The Greeks and Romans both associated frogs with fertility and harmony. To the Egyptians, the frog is a symbol of life and fertility, as well as rebirth or resurrection. The frog was a creature born of the annual flooding of the Nile, which in turn made the otherwise barren lands fertile. Thus, the frog-goddess of Fertility named Heget (meaning frog), came into their culture and mythology. In the Roman culture, the goddess Venus was also often depicted with a frog.

Abundance
Partly due to the very large number of eggs that a frog will lay, it became a symbol of abundance as well. For many cultures that depend on rain for rich and bountiful crops, the frog is a good luck symbol, a sign of prosperous weather to come. In Native American tradition, the frog is often seen as a rainmaker. In Australia too, the native Aborigines believed frogs brought the thunder and rain to help plants to grow. To the Vietnamese the toad is the “uncle of the Sky”, and an ancient story tells that it will rain whenever toads grind their teeth.

Wealth
In ancient China, the frog represented the lunar yin and the Frog spirit Ch’ing-Wa Sheng was associated with healing and good fortune in business. Tradition has it that the Chinese god of wealth, the immortal Liu Hai, kept a three-legged toad as a pet. It is a symbol for riches and often pictured with a gold coin in its mouth.

Health
In Native American culture, the frog is seen as a spirit animal or totem that is strongly associated with the water element and its cleansing attributes. This water connection brings emotions and feminine energies, but also cleanses physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Friendship
In folklore, the first frog of spring is said to bring you many friends if it does a “hop toad” jump in your direction.”

Of course, to every good omen, there seems to be a corresponding bad omen and the frog has a couple of those too. We’ve all heard the wives’ tale about getting warts if you handle a frog. Here’s how Animal World explains the origin of that tale, as well as some other bad-luck frog stories: “This old wives’ tale is believed to have originated from the toad’s bumpy skin making it appear like it has warts on it.

Bad fortune is depicted in folklore regarding the first frog of spring. “If the first frog that you see in the spring is sitting on dry ground, it signifies that during the same year you will shed as many tears as the frog would require to swim away in.” Further, if that frog leaps into the water you’ll have misfortune fortune all year, or if it leaps away from you, you will lose friends. In ancient China, a frog in a well is symbolic of a person lacking in understanding and vision.”

Another strange thing I discovered as I was researching this blog is that there have been several occurrences where it has actually rained frogs!  This is from liveabout.com:

“In 1873, Scientific American reported that Kansas City, Missouri was blanketed with frogs that dropped from the sky during a storm.

Minneapolis, Minnesota was pelted with frogs and toads in July 1901. A news item stated: “When the storm was at its highest… there appeared as if descending directly from the sky a huge green mass. Then followed a peculiar patter, unlike that of rain or hail. When the storm abated the people found, three inches deep and covering an area of more than four blocks, a collection of a most striking variety of frogs… so thick in some places [that] travel was impossible.”

The citizens of Naphlion, a city in southern Greece, were surprised one morning in May 1981, when they awoke to find small green frogs falling from the sky. Weighing just a few ounces each, the frogs landed in trees and plopped into the streets. The Greek Meteorological Institute surmised they were picked up by a strong wind. It must have been a very strong wind. The species of frog was native to North Africa.

In 1995, reports Fortean Times Online, Nellie Straw of Sheffield, England, was driving through Scotland on holiday with her family when they encountered a severe storm. Along with the heavy rain, however, hundreds of frogs suddenly pelted her car.”

That’s not a rainstorm I want to be caught out in!!!

More interesting frog facts from Earthrangers.com :

1. There are over 4,700 species of frogs! They are found on every continent except Antarctica.

2. Every year that a frog goes into hibernation, a new layer of bone forms. You can count these rings to find out the frog’s age.

3. Many frogs can jump 20 times their own height. Some can jump even higher!

4. Frogs come in all sorts of colors. The colorful skin of many tropical frogs acts as a warning to predators that these frogs are poisonous. This is the golden poison dart frog and it is considered to be one of the most poisonous animals on the planet.

5. The study of amphibians and reptiles is called Herpetology, and those who study them are called Herpetologists. The name comes from the Greek word Herpeton which means “something that crawls”.

6. One of the ways you can tell a male frog from a female is by looking at their ears. A frog’s ear is called tympanum and it is located just behind the eye. If the tympanum is larger than the frog’s eye, it is male; if it is smaller, it is female.

7. Did you know that frogs molt? This is the process where they shed their skin. Most frogs molt once a week but some will do it every day! Once the old skin has been pulled off, the frog usually eats it!

8. Croaking is used by male frogs as a way to attract females. Each frog species has a distinct croak. They have vocal sacs, which fill with air, and can amplify the sound up to a mile away!

9. Frogs have teeth on their upper jaw, which they use to keep their prey in one place until they can swallow it. Frogs swallow using their eyes; its eyes retract into its head and help push the food down its throat.

10. Frogs don’t drink water with their mouths; they “drink” by absorbing water through their skin. Frogs have permeable skin, which means liquids and gases can pass through it. There is a bad side to having permeable skin, though. Frogs are at risk of absorbing whatever pollutions are in the water and air, and they can easily get dehydrated if they are away from water for too long.”

And, it wouldn’t be Freaky Friday without a couple of freaky frog fables – right?!?!?

This is a Reddit story that I thought was interesting: “When I was 4 years old, there was this pond in the middle of town where I live. My grandmother told me that this was a wishing pond. At that time, you believe everything you hear from adults even if it’s a fairy tale. My grandmother took me to this pond, and she pointed to some flowers. She told me to make a wish then throw the flower in the pond, this will only work once though so make it worth it. At that time, I was obsessed with frogs, I loved frogs so much, so I wished, “I wish that lots of frogs would come to my house.” After making my wish, my grandmother took me home, the next morning I woke up and got ready for school, I walked out of my house and I was amazed to hundreds of frogs in my yard. They were hopping to my house. Strangely, the frogs weren’t at any of my neighbors’ houses. Just mine. They stayed at my house for several weeks, until one day I accidentally killed one. The next day after that, they all vanished, the strangest thing about this story is. I haven’t seen that species ever since.

Edit: The “wishing pond” was actually a fountain that was in the middle of town. I just call it a pond. I recall my grandmother calling it a pond as well. This all happened 12 years ago.”

This frog tale is from the website American Folklore.net: “Lawyer Elderkin stood on the porch looking up at the night sky. Clouds were rolling in, obscuring the stars, but for a few moments, the moon still shone on the sleepy town of Windham, Connecticut. Elderkin fervently hoped that the clouds meant rain. There was a severe drought in the county, and if it didn’t rain soon, the farmers would be in trouble. He drew in a deep breath, enjoying the smell of the honeysuckle growing on the trellis.

“Mister Elderkin,” called his wife from the doorway, “it is time for good folk to be in bed. It’s always late you are,” she added teasingly, her Irish lilt becoming stronger as she came out onto the porch and tucked her hand into his arm. “If you’re not careful, you’ll be late for the last trump! Now come to bed.”

Lawyer Elderkin smiled down at his still-beautiful wife. In the last gleams of moonlight, she looked as young as a girl, not like a woman expecting her first grandchild. The clouds encompassed the moon, and the light faded from the porch. “By all means, Mistress Elderkin. Let us go to bed.” He raised his eyebrows at her, and she giggled. The Elderkins repaired to their room and to their well-deserved slumbers. Outside, a light wind stirred the trees and knocked lightly against the windows of the town. The town quieted down as the weary townsfolk snuggled into their beds and sank into peaceful repose while the east wind danced through the dark clouds and whistled in the meadow outside town.

It was just after midnight when the silence was broken by a terrible noise coming from the sky overhead. The screaming, screeching, roaring sound was like none ever heard by the townsfolk. They came tumbling out of their beds in fright. “Injuns!” shouted Mister Smith, the owner of the local shop, to his cowering wife.

“It’s got to be Injuns. Get the children and go down to the cellar.” He grabbed his gun and ran down to the street, still in his nightclothes. He joined a growing crowd of people, most of them still in their nightclothes, a few wearing nothing but the covers from their beds. Some of the men were searching each building in town, trying to find the cause of the terrible noise that still roared overhead. A few carried guns and these men banded together with Mister Smith to search for Indians.

“It’s the Last Judgment!” a woman screamed, and her words were echoed throughout the crowd. Children were crying and shouting, women were wringing their hands, and the minister was praying loudly over a devoted knot of folk who were on their knees. The Elderkins joined the terrified crowd, holding hands tightly so as not to be separated. Above them, the terrible screeching and roaring intensified. And in it, they could hear a name. Colonel Dyer. Colonel Dyer. Lawyer Elderkin gasped. That was the name of his rival, the only other lawyer in town. And then He heard it. His own name came through the roaring, screeching sky. Elderkin. Elderkin. Colonel Dyer. Colonel Dyer. The people nearest the Elderkins backed away.

“The Devil has Come for them,” a little boy screamed and ran for his mother.

“Nonsense,” shouted Colonel Dyer, shoving his way through the crowd to the Elderkins and pulling his frightened wife behind him. Mistresses Dyer and Elderkin, who usually treated each other with a marked coolness of manner, clung to one another like sisters.

“We are God-fearing people. Even if the Devil wanted to claim us, the Lord would save us!” shouted Lawyer Elderkin. Above the town, the roaring continued. Colonel Dyer. Elderkin. Elderkin. Colonel Dyer. And then a terrible screeching made everyone cover their ears.

“It’s Injuns, not the Devil,” shouted Mister Smith, thrusting his way through the crowd, waving his gun. “Come on, men. Let’s get ’em before they attack!” He led his band of Indian hunters toward the hills outside the town limits. Many of the townsfolk, hearing his words, ran back into their homes and barred their doors. But the Elderkins and the Dyers hurried over to the minister, more frightened than they would admit by the continuing repetition of their names from the roaring sky. The minister prayed over them, asking God to keep them safe from whatever devilry was seeking them by name.

Atop the hill outside of town, the Indian hunters quickly realized that the sounds were coming from the east rather than the sky. Seeing no Indians, the men beat a hasty retreat from the terrible roaring, not wanting to be involved in whatever devilry was taking place. Gradually, the sound lessened. The repetition of the names Colonel Dyer and Elderkin faded away into a continuous, dull roaring. After hearing Mister Smith’s report on the source of the sound, the minister walked to the eastern boundary of the town and prayed for the protection of the people. This prayer, coupled with the gradual lessening of the sound, reduced the panic, and most people went back to their own homes. The Elderkins sat on their front porch with the Dyers, waiting for the terrible sounds to fade away completely. Toward dawn, all was again silent but for the wind blowing in the trees.

At dawn Colonel Dyer and Lawyer Elderkin, along with Mister Smith, the minister, and a few other bold folk, set off eastward in search of the source of the terrible disturbance. About three-quarters of a mile outside town, they came to the millpond. They stopped and looked down upon the source of the terrible roaring sound. The pond was nearly dry except for a deep ditch that ran through it. And surrounding the ditch were the bodies of thousands of bullfrogs, which had waged a terrible and prolonged battle during the night for possession of the remaining water in the pond. Even now a few stubborn frogs on the north side of the ditch were crawling toward their enemies, croaking a battle cry that sounded remarkably like Colonel Dyer, while the ones to the south responded with a cry of Elderkin too, Elderkin too. The atmospheric conditions of the night before had magnified the sound so that it seemed to be coming from the sky above the town.

After a moment’s stunned silence, the men laughed until the tears rolled down their cheeks and Colonel Dyer had to be picked up off the road. Dyer and Elderkin each claimed one of the remaining belligerent frogs to offer as proof of the source of the sound. And ever after, the lawyers delighted in producing their strange pets and telling the story of the fighting frogs of Windham.”

Ribbet!!!!

Happy Friday!!!

  • This is a video from my deck late at night – hence the darkness. But you can certainly hear the frog song.

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