Frogs - Shriek


"Lovely things, frogs", he said "so graceful swimming. So useful in the garden for eating slugs. Could I have been right, then, in saying that on Mooney Goes Wild after last Sunday's lunch-time news, a woman who has a pond full of frogs said she didn't want them, but they kept on coming? Mind you, I was driving at the time, and might have got a wrong emphasis."

He went on to tell his own story: how for years and years he had tried to get frogs resident around his own Dublin suburban garden pool - a nice neat thing with a regular circulation of water through a fountain which played into a stone basin for the birds to splash in. All around this is water with growing things to give shelter to acquatic creatures - such as tadpoles. And year after year his children and grandchildren had supplied him with frogspawn from their own gardens. And he would watch the little black spots lengthen and then the tiny wrigglers come out. And it wasn't so long before they showed signs of legs, after which they shed the tails and became frogs.

But just at that stage they vanished. He had only once or twice found a full-grown frog, after all the expectancy. And frogs must be growing rarer in the country with all the drainage and tidying up of wet places. He knows that, as someone put it, while frogs can love in water, they are not addicted to it. When grown they like to live in dampish places and in shade. Indeed our friend, when in another part of the country, and perhaps over-anxiously weeding around the vase of small conifers, often found himself looking into the pop eyes of a frog.

But back to the garden pool which didn't produce. The experiment was given up some time ago. It can hardly have been that the frogs dodged away at night when he was not watching. For it is a walled garden, leading into another walled enclosure. As to possible predators, the birds at the pond are ordinary garden birds. And there are, of course, no owls, otters, mink or rats, all listed as frog-eaters. Now you would probably need a licence to borrow a jarful of spawn. Frogs have been known to come down in a shower after some turbulence.

A word about frog-sound. We know that they croak, but they can shriek, and loudly. One did so when it landed at the bottom of a cattle-trap and was attacked by a mouse similarly stuck there. The mouse had its teeth into a leg of the frog, and the shriek didn't cease until both had been lifted up out of the trap, and the pair parted and sent on their separate ways.