Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wood Frog

While hiking a remote trail along Little Beaver Creek in Columbiana County last Sunday with Jim Dolan, a Wood Frog suddenly popped from cover and had the good graces to bound onto an emerald moss blanket.

The little frog looked up at me, possibly wondering what kind of bizarre hopless biped had stumbled into its path. I promptly flopped down to its level, and began making some photos. Wood Frogs are quite terrestrial and spend most of their lives in woodlands, away from water. Still, they are tiny and adept at hiding, and one doesn't all that often get confronted by one.

Wood Frogs become most conspicuous in late winter/very early spring, when they migrate en masse to vernal pools to mate and lay eggs. For a few days, woodland pools reverberate with the collective chuckles of the assembled amphibious throngs, which sounds all the world like a pack of distant ducks. Often, the ice still skims the the margins of their breeding ponds, but a bit of chilly water effects the little beasts not one iota.

No amphibian ranges further north than do tiny Wood Frogs. They survive and thrive all the way to the tundra. The black-masked hoppers can freeze nearly solid, and thanks to the production of what is essentially an anti-freeze chemical, they readily thaw back out and are good as new.

While there are plenty of formidable amphibians, such as the devilish Two-toed Amphiumas of the deep south, the miniature Wood Frog gets my vote as toughest amphibian.



rebecca said...

Huh - I'm very familiar with wood frogs from doing breeding amphibian surveys in college but I had no idea they were actually mostly terrestrial. Interesting!

Abraham Lincoln said...

Nice photos on this frog.

Jim McCormac said...

Thank you very much for the kind words, Mr. Lincoln! Now, if George W. and Thomas J. would only weigh in...