Bullfrogs

April 28, 2021

I have mentioned how the pool in our backyard was left to sit for several years before we arrived in Arkansas.  Since we returned, we have yet to repair the pool.  This was supposed to be the summer when it was repaired but when the heater and air conditioner units went out last winter, we put our pool money toward replacement.  This is a saltwater pool and we rarely had trouble with critters.  It has since become more like a freshwater pond.  We are next to a low-lying lot and have always been blessed with bullfrogs.  Several have decided that our pond is the perfect place for courtship.  They have been kind enough to serenade us well into the night since we have returned.

The American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) is a large true frog native to eastern North America.  It typically inhabits large permanent water bodies such as swamps, ponds, and lakes.  Bullfrogs can also be found in manmade habitats such as pools (like mine), koi ponds, canals, ditches, and culverts.  The bullfrog gets its name from the sound the male makes during the breeding season, which sounds like a bull bellowing.  The bullfrog is large and is commonly eaten throughout its range, especially in the southern United States.  As a food source, they have been distributed outside their normal range, and are found in the Western US, South America, Western Europe, China, Japan, and southeast Asia.  By transplanting the bullfrogs, they are invasive species.  The have a voracious appetite and produce a lot of eggs, negatively effecting native amphibians and other fauna.  Humans never seem to learn.

Aside from food, the other use for bullfrogs is for dissection in science class.  I remember doing this when I was in High School.  The bullfrog is first pithed to prevent pain to the animal yet keep it immobile while the organs still work.  This is the method of inserting a sharp probe quickly through the base of the frog’s skull, into its brain and dispatching the frog without damaging any of the organs a biology student would be learning to identify.  If done correctly, pithing is the fastest and least painful death for the frog.  Pithing a frog is not something most people are good at the first time, and many instructors prefer to use frogs preserved in formalin rather than live ones for dissection.

Thoughts:  I always felt bad for the bullfrogs in my pool.  Every year I scoop several out of the water after I find them belly up in the water.  The water level fluctuates with the rains and I did not think they had a way to get out over the tall sides of the pool.  That was until I saw the two frogs sitting at the side of the pool this morning.  They had obviously got on the lower step and then jumped to the next and then out of the pool.  They were waiting patiently, but ever ready to jump back into the water.  While these two bullfrogs had escaped the pool trap, they were reluctant to leave and even willing to jump back in.  Humans seem to do the same thing in our lives.  We get in harmful situations and work hard to get out.  Then at the first sign of trial we jump back into the trap we just escaped.  The number of cases, hospitalizations, and death toll from the virus began to decline.  That is when we loosened restrictions and jumped back into the pool.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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