A distant croak reminds a hiker that they’re not so alone in their journey. A spree of tadpoles swims into the creek. Overgrown vegetation comes alive with minute rumblings and tassels. A heartbeat. Perhaps the most alien of creatures in our vast environments prompts the most self-reflection, making us ponder, what exactly makes me human? Frogs have a certain charm and foreignness that makes many ask this very question. Time slows down as the bullfrog preys on a passing fly; eyes are mesmerized by the bright saturated pigments of a poison dart frog. Join me with your amphibious ambition as we dive into the wide world of frogs.
This may be the frog log, but we’ll start off with a toad. The fire-bellied toad features a mossy vibrant green on the top half of the body and a hazard orange on the bottom, all while sprinkled with a sporadic spotted and striped pattern. These creatures range from 2-3 inches long. As insectivores, they prey on feeble crickets, waxworms, and wiggler worms. Personally, I think the most enjoyable aspect of the fire-bellied toad is their bumpy, knobbly skin. This, coated in a painted mural of intoxicating spottings and picturesque coloration, makes these animals quite the spectacle.
Our next subject is the Indian bullfrog. This frog sports a bright yellow pigment and is commonly seen with colorful blue throat pouches. As if this frog wasn’t enough of an extraterrestrial, it is also an invasive cannibal species. The amphibians eat native species’ tadpoles as an appetizer to their moistened, coarse meal. Along with small insects, this organism can also chow down on juvenile snakes, small birds, and small mammals. That a Kermit-like specimen can even prey on such feasts is surreal.
Now we take a brief hiatus from our learning of various species to explore the meaning of frogs to different cultures. In ancient Egypt, our jumpy friends were seen as a token of water, renewal, and fertility. They were a symbol of the goddess Heqet, who often appeared with the head of a frog and the body of a woman; you could say she woke up with a croak in her throat. The importance of frogs was illuminated during the yearly flooding of the Nile River. With the mucus-glossed aliens thriving in the murky bogs of Egypt, it was a win-win.
From a mere pollywog to a leaping condensation roamer, frogs serve as a metaphor for all of us. Despite starting as estranged-looking organisms, they always reach the end goal of a frog. Even if you start at what seems like nothing, you will reach the end goal of success, growing limbs one at a time. With every ligament comes knowledge. With every extremity comes growth. At long morrow, the tadpole breaks free from its aquatic impound, finally able to truly breathe for the first time. I hope frogs inspire you to breathe as well.