The frog’s meow

first_imgBy Mike IsbellUniversity of Georgia”You need to hear this frog,” the caller said. “I’ve never heardone make a sound like this.”I’m always interested in strange things in nature. Maybe thisfrog was something special. I decided to check it out.Bill met me out in the yard of the old frame house. We walkedover to a 5-gallon bucket he had out under a huge shade tree.Inside the bucket was the frog. After a few misses, Billretrieved the frog from the bucket.The big bullfrog Bill was holding was a good 5 inches long, andthat didn’t include its legs. Bill placed the frog on the groundand began to rub its back. The old frog raised itself off theground and arched its back, like a bow, and began to emit a veryunfroglike sound.Just like a catDarned if it didn’t sound just like a cat. And a very mad cat atthat.Now, I’m no frog expert, but I told Bill I suspected the catsound the frog was making was probably a cry of distress becauseit was caught. I told him I would try to confirm my suspicionwith someone who’s an expert.”I don’t guess we need to contact ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’just yet, huh?” Bill said jokingly.”No, I wouldn’t just yet,” I said.Toads and frogsToads and frogs range from just above the Arctic Circle to justabout the southern tips of Africa, Australia and South Americaand on many islands, including New Zealand. They’re the mostwidely distributed of all the amphibians.The typical toad has warty skin and short legs for hopping, whilethe typical frog has smooth skin and long legs for leaping. Butthere are no hard-and-fast rules for distinguishing a toad from afrog.Bullfrogs prefer larger bodies of water than most other frogs.You can find them in lakes, ponds and sluggish streams. You canusually see them along the water’s edge or amid the vegetationwhere they can hide.’Jug-o’-rum’Their deep, soothing, “jug-o’-rum” sound is what you would expectfrom bullfrogs.My research on frog sounds led me to Whit Gibbons in Aiken, S.C.Whit’s a reptilian and amphibian expert.He confirmed my suspicion that the sound was a distress cry ofthe frog. Whit said it’s a sound some bullfrogs will make inresponse to a predator. He didn’t know if all bullfrogs make itor just certain frogs.But evidently it’s rare to hear one.A bullfrog that sounds like a cat. Isn’t that the frog’s meow!(Mike Isbell is the Heard County Extension Coordinator withthe University of Georgia College of Agricultural andEnvironmental Sciences.)last_img