In Animals, Nature, Words

A frog in a pond

It’s always an exciting moment when a frog takes up residence in your pond, especially when it’s the first and only frog that’s appeared there in over eight years. It raises questions, though, such as ‘Where have you come from?’ and ‘How did you get here?’

When a creature crawls out of the water onto land, as this frog did, it’s always tempting to assume it evolved there, unlikely though that may be. I’m not an expert on evolution but I’m pretty sure it takes more than eight years. So this leaves only three plausible explanations: 1. A bird dropped it; 2. It fell out of an aeroplane; 3. It walked.

But why would it? It seems like a major diversion from normal frog behaviour, which can best be described as sitting very still for long periods of time. What would prompt such a sedentary animal to up and leave in search of ponds new? Why would a frog, in the middle of the wettest summer in living memory, suddenly develop the pioneer spirit and hop off to find a different pool of water to sit very still by?

Was it driven out of its previous pond by an angry mob perhaps, or did the wanderlust just flare up one day and compel it to hit the road? Could it have stumbled upon a copy of As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee and been inspired to go in search of adventure? Is there an amphibian civil war raging around my pond that I’m not aware of? Can I expect an invasion of frog poets, all looking for something to fight for? Reptiles without a cause?

Actually, that doesn’t work because frogs are amphibians not reptiles, but hey.

The more you learn about frogs, the more you discover that this is all highly unlikely. Frogs are not great readers, nor are they known for their poetry. The most likely answer is that this particular froggie went a-courting and has yet to meet its bride.

Apparently the common frog – which, as the name implies, is the most common type of frog in the UK – will walk up to half a mile to find a mate. And they know where to go because they are very good at tuning in to the calls of other frogs of their kind. They have an incredible ability to filter out sounds other than those that matter to them (we all know someone like that, don’t we?), a skill that is being studied by hearing aid manufacturers to see if they can emulate the same facility for humans.

That’s a true fact, by the way. You don’t get many here so make the most of it.

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