Often when I tell people that I love frogs, one the most important question that they ask me is “Why do these ugly frogs fascinate you? What’s in them?” So to answer this FAQ, I have made a list of fascinating facts about these croaking knights.
I am sure these will not fail to impress even the most unexcitable amongst you:
1. Bioindicators- The word ‘bioindicator’ literally means a creature that tells you something about the environment. Did you know that frogs breathe through their skin? Fascinating- ain’t it! Scientists over the years have explained that frogs and amphibians are good bioindicators because they are affected by the natural environment. Their skin is highly permeable and any change in the quality of air or water will directly or indirectly affect their existence. Sudden increase or decrease in the population of frogs can speak a lot about the environment that we live in.
Watch this video to know more –
2. Hate creepy crawlies? Love frogs- Most frogs feed on little invertebrates on the land and in the water. They play a major role in controlling the population of pests. Frogs will feed on mosquito larvae thus keeping the environment clean and preventing many deadly diseases. This could be most people’s personal favorite reason to love frogs 😀
Take a look at this mind-boggling poster released by Vancouver Aquarium to show you what the world without frogs would look like –
3. Two lives specialist- Amphibians are specialized creatures that live in the water and on the land. Alfred Sherwood Romer quotes- “The amphibian is.. in many respects, little more than a peculiar type of ﬁsh which is capable of walking on land.” Frogs spend one-half of their life in water being tadpoles and other half on land or trees. There are indeed frogs that are fully aquatic but would still spend time at the edges of the pools (half immersed) instead of fully being in the water, unlike any fish.
4. Breathing through the largest organ- Just like human beings, frogs have skin, bones, muscles and in-cavity organs. In the early nineteenth century, a number of scientists studied the frog’s respiratory system and found out that frogs could stay alive in the absence of lungs for more than a month! Skin is the largest organ in the body and frogs rely to a great extent on cutaneous (through skin) respiration. This explains why the frog’s skin is highly permeable to water and air, although the only constraint being it must be kept moist at all times.
5. Clean drinking water- Excessive algae blooms have been a major cause for the destruction of fresh water bodies. Most tadpoles and frogs feed on algae that grow in the water bodies. Thus they help in maintaining the oxygen levels of the water. They form a part of natural filtration system in the freshwater ponds. You might also like to know that they are never found in salty water or in the sea!
6. Eggs so weird- Frogs lay their eggs in water or on very damp surfaces. Their eggs are unlike any other reptile or bird eggs – they are not covered by hard shells. Frog eggs are little squishy bundles made of a jelly like matter that protects the growing embryo. Most amphibians use external fertilization (the female lays eggs first and the male fertilizes it later). This again explains the need for damp surfaces and requirement of fresh water for their survival.
7. Psychedelic calls- ‘The sound, which the scientiﬁc books describe as “croaking,” floats far and wide, and produces a beautiful, mysterious effect on a still evening’ – W. H. Hudson (1919). You might have heard continuous trrrr-trrrr-trrrr during damp, dark nights in your backyard. Have you ever wondered how these little beasts call all night? Well, the answer lies in their wonderful and functional three-unit “noise-production-system” inside their body cavities. This system consists of trunk muscles, larynx and vocal sacs. Trunk muscles give power, larynx helps in the production of the sound, and the buccal cavity and vocal sacs together transmit the sound to long distances. Sounds are either produced for attracting mates or for dominating other males in the area.
This clip by Ramit Singal tells you how interesting the music can get –
8. Highly intelligent- These tiny wonders are extremely intelligent. They are smart enough to manipulate their sounds and signals according to different needs. Some frog species, considering the habitat they live in (torrential streams), call at different pitches and manipulate their frequencies.
The ones living near heavy flowing rivers might give “click” sounds with long breaks to stand apart from the continuous background sounds. And there are frogs that have evolved to give ‘visual signals’ to convey their message. Foot-flagging is one such visual signal. The genus Micrixalus (endemic to India) is popular for their foot-flagging signals. They are popularly nicknamed Dancing Frogs. There are about twenty-four known species of Dancing Frogs in India.
This video by Dr Gururaja shows how a frog dances –
These are only but a few facts that I have listed due to time and space constraints. If I sit back and start to mention each hard-to-believe fact of these slimy creatures, I could write an entire 100-page magazine dedicated to frogs. Now I’m sure you understand – why I’m crazily in love with frogs <3
I would also like to tell you, that I am starting Part 1 of my campaign #NotJustFrogs in India. All you have to do is click pictures of frogs (add date and location) and share them with me using the hashtag on Instagram and Twitter.
You could also join this facebook group!
Also, if you would like to take one more step towards saving frogs then click on the link below. You will be asked to make your profile and then you can show your support towards my project with Roots&Shoots by Dr Jane Goodall.
Don’t forget to tell me your reasons to love (or hate?) frogs in the comments below 🙂