Wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) have found their way to my little garden pond next to the front steps. There is still snow in the yard, but they are announcing spring is here. To hear their mating call, click here. They sound a bit like ducks quacking.
These little critters are about 2-3 inches long and live in wooded areas, hunting in leaf litter for prey. They are so well camouflaged that one only sees them when they jump, making a fast getaway. They overwinter under the leaf litter and curiously, can freeze completely, even enduring repeated thaw and freeze cycles. Wood frogs only come to water, usually vernal pools, to breed. Frogs prefer vernal pools (which are ephemeral, lasting only a month or two), for breeding because they lack fish, which will prey upon eggs and tadpoles. I’ve come to the conclusion that they are a delicacy because everything eats them, including other amphibians.
We cover the pond over winter to prevent it from filling with leaves and debris. On Saturday morning my spouse uncovered it and it had a 2″ layer of ice covering it. Sunday I raked the garden bed surrounding the pond and was startled to uncover one of these little frogs – yikes! The ice was melting pretty fast, but seeing that we already had a tenant waiting to take up residency, I removed the rest of the ice with a rake and scooped out what leaves that had found their way in under the cover. The pond always smells a bit off at first, but the sun takes care of it after a few days.
It only took two days to attract four frogs and more will come. The spring peepers will be next. My favorite, they are are only 1 inch long and cling to the shrubbery around the pond. They drive my spouse crazy since they incessantly “peep-peep-peep” all night long into June, especially if it rains! We will eventually also get green frogs that find their way up from the river. It’s quite a party out there some nights – all in this tiny 3 x 4 foot pond!
To learn more about wood frogs and their life cycle, click here.