Have you ever noticed how frog clip art always features froggies sitting atop a lily pad? Honestly, I always found it a bit far fetched since I have hundreds of water lily leaves and lots of frogs but never the two did meet. Always seemed like a staged frog fantasy. That is until yesterday.
I was out and about checking out the pond when I noticed a mass of black dots in a section that becomes quite shallow during dry season. The water is still about 8 inches deep and there are water lilies growing there. I leaned over and used a piece of sedge to take a sampling of the mass so I could get a better look. I heard an “EEK” and a small splash, which means that I disturbed a nearby frog.
I was fascinated by the close-up view of the little marbles. I plotted in my mind what I needed to do to research these particular eggs. I’d seen eggs strewn in a sting-like fashion but never any in a big ol’ circular glob.
Just then, I spotted a wee frog climbing atop one of the waterlily leaves. EUREKA! So that’s what the clip art is all about! It wasn’t a frog I was familiar with. I have leopard frogs and I’ve seen the southern toads in the pond during breeding season, but this guy (or gal) was new. Tiny, maybe 1-1/2 inches, dark in color. I took a few distant shots and headed into the computer.
Frogs are generally broken down into three categories. Terrestrial Frogs a.k.a. toads and others that hang out on land, Arboreal Frogs a.k.a. treefrogs and Aquatic Frogs a.k.a. ummmmmm….FROGS!, like you might envision on a lily pad.
A check of aquatic frogs for Central Florida revealed 5 possibilities: American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), Bronze Frog (L. clamitans), Pig Frog (L. grylio), Southern Leopard Frog (L. sphenocephalus), Southern Cricket Frog (Acris gryllus).
Ok, too small for a bullfrog, it didn’t oink, so scratch pig frog, and I’m familiar with both the leopard and cricket frogs, soooooooooooooooo, that leaves “Bronze Frog”. Hmmm, the color seems right. Dang, the picture is rather blurry but I believe it is a match.
The identification was confirmed when I found a photo of the Bronze Frog’s egg mass. The photo could have been my very own.
The Bronze frog (L. clamitans clamitans) apparently is a subspecies of the Green frog. I guess that the Florida sun gives that healthy pallor…I just hope he is smart enough to use sunscreen.
Green frogs are primarily carnivores and eat a wide variety of insects and other invertebrates from both land and water, such as slugs, snails, crayfish, spiders, flies, caterpillars, butterflies, and moths. They also eat other vertebrates, such as small snakes and frogs. Green frogs practice “sit and wait” hunting and therefore eat whatever comes within reach. Tadpoles mainly eat diatoms, algae, and tiny amounts of small animals such as zooplankton (copepods and cladocerans).
Eggs hatch in 3 to 7 days. So I will patiently wait and hope that the big blue heron that I saw munching in the pond will leave the breakfast eggs alone and stick with the fresh fish…so I can see the metamorphosis. If they are smart they will. More meat on frog legs than caviar. Stay tuned!
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