Bullfrogs: Masters of the Swamp!

A young bullfrog in pond, its bottom half is submerged in the water

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“Nothing exists for itself alone, but only in relation to other forms of life.Charles Darwin

Darwin’s timeless quote might just be the perfect mantra for the American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), the largest frog in North America. This giant of a frog is heard far more often than seen. It is a major player in Oakland County ponds and wetlands and an integral part of its watery environment.

Bullfrogs can weigh well over a pound and be almost eight inches long. Their appetite is even larger than their size. Unlike other frogs that just wait patiently at the edge of a swamp to snag a passing bug or dragonfly with a lightning-fast sticky tongue, bullfrogs lunge open-mouthed at unsuspecting passing prey.

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Oakland County’s Vernal Ponds – Alive With Wood Frogs!

Photo credit: Taylor Reynolds

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

We knew winter really was over and spring was firmly taking hold on the wilder side of Oakland County when my hiking companion and I unexpectedly encountered an ancient amphibian ritual deep in the woods of Bald Mountain Recreation Area. Although light rain fell the evening before, the sun was shining. Only a few, very small remnants of snow remained on north facing slopes of the glacially sculpted, wooded hills, and the temperature had just reached 55°F. Those environmental conditions were perfect for the encounter that was about to occur.

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Last Call for the Eastern Gray Treefrog

Wilder Side of Oakland County

Gray Tree Frog Eyes on Sunflower.

Photo courtesy of Wendy Pellerito, Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy

Hungry snakes, branch-hopping birds, ravenous red squirrels and bigger frogs eat them. Nature-savvy adults smile at them in gardens. Little kids are mesmerized when one of these sticky toe padded predator with beautiful eyes crawls up the exterior of a window on a late summer evening to peer inside.

The Eastern Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) is a very common frog of Southeastern Michigan and is found in all 13 Oakland County Parks. Seeing them, however, is not as easy as hearing their loud trill. They are masters of camouflage with the ability to change color from bright green to shades of gray, and molted patterns of grays and greens. Their cryptic coloration gives them the ability to hide in plain sight and wait for a big bug, juicy beetle, or even a smaller frog to pass within strike-and-slurp range. Continue reading