Adventures to have and places to see

Frog Wars

Springtime brings many interesting “events” to the pond. We watch for new species of birds visiting, count how many baby fish survived the winter months, and watch the frogs as they crawl out of their winter hiding places. After warming up in the sun for several days they start to get their lovely green coloured skin with bright yellow throats. With their vibrance, they also become more entertaining. Mating rights become the focus, usually starting at about 6:30 pm and doesn’t end until they have had enough fighting for one night. 

Some evenings we watch the frogs for hours, long after sunset. The battles can seem quite alarming as the dominant males wrestle until there is only one dominant male…or at least we are assuming that that is the goal. We have witnessed particularly startling “bully” type behaviour at the pond that is just not acceptable. Not acceptable in our society. Kind of leaves me thinking that perhaps when we call a person a bully that the word originated from observing bullfrog behaviours. I will go on to say that we have yet to find any dead frogs after an evening of battles. 

It seems that some typical bully type behaviour begins with taunting by way of croaking. Series of croaks, we are sure, add up to different responses by other frogs in the pond. Seems like one croak delivered and then agreed upon by one croak determines who is fighting. We have observed some wicked behaviour. Watching the biggest frog in the pond swim over to smaller frogs and dunk the smaller frogs head underwater. This reminds me of my childhood. Kids playing in a pool or at the beach thinking it’s hilarious to go around dunking other children’s heads underwater. I was never a fan of this “game.” A game of chase is another taunting strategy the occurs before the actual fighting begins. 

Suddenly it’s on! Frog wrestling with all the moves. As you can see from the photos it gets pretty physical. I have been known to get a little too upset like one night we were watching and taking photos when two very well matched frogs had each other in a hold so tight that they managed to flip themselves completely over, tied in knots, revealing their tender white bellies. They held in this position to the point where I feared we would find dead frogs. My husband quickly put the camera down (sorry, no photo because I was upset causing him to miss the opportunity) and swiftly grabbed the fishing net hoisting the pair out of the pond and gently bouncing it up and down until they let go of each other. He then placed them back in the pond. They swam to either end of the far reaches of the pond. The fish took no notice. They swam up to the pond’s edge by our chairs and simply asked for more food. Kind of like going to the movies for the sole purpose of eating popcorn.

One year we had a particularly, um dominant, frog who constantly picked on the little frogs, chasing them out of the pond before hunting time (sundown), dunking heads, swatting while swimming by, that kind of thing. As we sat enjoying the sun and discussing the “bully frog’s” behaviour, he actually sat on the stream waterfall and ate one of the honey bees! 

“He didn’t just eat a honey bee! They don’t eat honey bees, they will be stung.” My voice was getting a little high pitched by the end of my sentence.

My husband assured me that they certainly don’t eat honey bees while we sat there watching Bully frog’s eyes pop one by one alternating between the two. His mouth was opening and closing with his tongue rolling thickly in his mouth as if it had pop rocks (you know that candy that as kids we all thought were hilarious because they would snap and jump on your tongue) folded inside it. 

“That’ll teach him,” I said matter of factly.

“He’d better not eat anymore or he is out of the pond.” My husband stated very matter of factly.

We sat listening to the croaking, feeding the fish, and enjoying our honey bees busy gathering water at the pond making notes of their favourite and safest spots for this necessary activity. Occasionally we would have to use the pond skimmer and fish out the less experienced girls (all worker honey bees are girls) and help her dry out on the pond stones. Before too long Bully frog ate another honey bee. His body going through all the same symptoms as when he ate the first witnessed offence. 

“He didn’t just do that again! One more time and that’s…”

I didn’t even finish my sentence and he grabbed another as if to defy us both. My husband jumped up and with one fluid motion had the net in his hand and scooped up Bully before anybody could so much as croak. The fish scattered and the pond went silent. My husband went off toward the tall grass at the front of the yard. 

When he returned, empty net in hand, he said that we shall see if he makes it back to the pond. 

“Nobody eats the honey bees!” And we looked at each of the frogs pointing our fingers at them and then laughing because, you know, we just told our frogs off. The fish came back asking for food and the rest of the pond carried on but with a lot less croaking.

The next evening, while sitting at the pond drinking wine, checking for pinheads (freshly hatched fish), and feeding the fish, we noticed a very large frog in the pond going around and dunking all of the smaller frogs heads under the water. We looked at each other wondering if Bully was back already? Then, as if to taunt us, he sat upon the waterfall stream and ate a honey bee. We both gasped and said, “that’s it, he’s going to the ditch!”

My husband with the same adequate moves he deployed the previous evening grabbed Bully, put him a handy bucket (the one we were using to check for pinheads) and marched him off out to the ditch across the road from our property. Not a harsh environment with its stand of cattails, marsh grasses, and trees for shade. 

Just the other day, first of spring weather, we were out for our usual walk and as we stepped close to our mailbox there was a loud, resounding croak. We looked at each other and then laughed. “Do you think it’s the Bully frog?” I was looking around to see if I could spot him. We agreed it would be cool if it was our Bully still living the high life in his new environment. We went away with our mail and headed toward the pond.