A Frog At The Door


There is a frog outside a door in this cartoon, and the frog is saying: "OK, I'm going in." This caption explains that the Irish Peatland Conservation Council has received a lot of telephone calls from distressed house owners claiming that large numbers of frogs were trying to invade their homes. This was because the common frog goes to the same pond to breed every year and always follows the same path to that pond. If a house is built in the middle of their path they will try to go through rather than around it." You don't believe it? It's in a four-page pamphlet issued by this worthy body, whose stated aim is to campaign for the protection of bogs and their wildlife, which are under threat from the use of moss peat and turf extraction. "We lobby governments to buy peatlands and manage them as nature reserves." The council is a registered charity, at 119 Capel Street, Dublin. This witty and informative pamphlet is entitled "Hop To It", and gives the result of a survey under that slogan conducted in 1997, or rather, a racy summary of it with brilliant illustrations. The full report is also available. Jolly things, frogs, from this production. Anyway, almost 900 replies were received to the survey, the first of its kind, say the sponsors, to be held in Ireland. A few froggy facts: while there are about 4,000 species of frogs and toads in the world, only two are found in Ireland. Frogs absorb water through their skin and so don't need to drink. They have been known to live for up to 20 years. They eat slugs, worms, flies and insects. They live, not always, as you might imagine, in water, but among damp vegetation, well-camouflaged ponds, among rushes, under shady plants.

If interested, you might be lucky enough to find spawn as early as January 21st. That, anyway, was the record in this country-wide survey. The first tadpole came by February 18th and the first tadpole with legs was on March 1st. And in this year the first juvenile frog arrived on April 1st. Yet of all the spawn discovered during the survey, it is estimated that 7 per cent survived to become juvenile frogs. In a map and graphics table, Donegal, Cork and Dublin led in returning records.

Other odd facts from this smiling production: people who study frogs are known as herpetologists (covers reptiles). And, in a verbal sketch, the pamphlet details a frog's appearance - "frogs have smooth moist skin, an obvious hump of their backs near their bottoms, a brown patch behind each eye, four fingers and five toes, no tails and no neck." Again, splendid cartoons to make you laugh and feel sympathy for the frog. And the IPCC was sponsored by Bord na Mona, and supported by CRH plc, Flogas Ireland, Marsh Christian Trust, Department of Education, FAS Community Employment and the European Union.