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Join the Frog Chorus

by Dreux J. Watermolen [frog graphic]

Ah spring! For tree or toad, the sap is running, there's love in the air and it pays to advertise.

Like birds, frog and toad species each have a distinctive call to attract females to breeding areas. In shallow waters fertilized eggs will hatch into tadpoles and metamorphose into young frogs. (Metamorphosis is the change in structure and habits of an animal during normal growth. Examples of metamorphoses are the changing of a tadpole into a frog or a caterpillar into a butterfly.) We can help you get to the right place at the right time to hear and see the annual "chorus" ritual.

It's fun to explore for other amphibians too. On that first rainy night before the ground thaws, about the time the chorus frogs begin calling, salamanders will also start making their moves. They make a nocturnal migration from upland wooded areas to ponds, marshes, and lakes. Male salamanders do not have breeding calls. They simply show up at the breeding areas a day or two after the females to start courtship. [frog picture]

A key to enjoying Wisconsin's frogs and toads is knowing how to find them. It's likely that several species live near your house. Start by scouting nearby wetlands. Almost all of Wisconsin's amphibians need water for breeding. Some breed in temporary ponds that form in farm fields, some only inhabit lakes and perpetually wet areas, others use woodland pools. Click here to learn how to know your frogs and find out exactly where to look for each type of frog.

Adult amphibians can be safely handled, provided your hands are clean and free of bug spray. Always wet your hands before touching amphibians, so you don't rub off the mucous membrane that keeps them from drying out and protects them from germs.

Timing is everything

Shortly after the chorus frogs begin to sing in March, northern leopard frogs, northern spring peepers, and wood frogs join in. Later in the spring American toads, and Cope's and eastern gray treefrogs can be heard. Green frogs, mink frogs, and bullfrogs start croaking in the very late spring and early summer. Click here to learn more about where to look for frogs, how to identify frogs and how to recognize their calls and markings.

Make an origami jumping frog.

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