TNB Night Owl – They Only Come Out On Summer Nights

Amphibian. Photo by the News Blender.

Officially, summer only just began early morning yesterday, June 21. Yet, it seems like summer started nearly two months ago. In my area, the scorching season is nothing but hot, humid, and sometimes very dry. We’re in a drought, but so far only a very mild one (knock on deadwood). I like the rainy years better, the temperatures tend not to be so miserably suffocating, and the firefly population skyrockets when there’s more moisture in the environment.

While fireflies are my favorite summer feature, a close second has to be the local amphibians. We’re talking frogs and toads here by the hundreds, if not thousands, just counting those within earshot. In the winter, they burrow into the ground and hibernate, but in the summer, many species live in the trees and sing. As I write, I’m enjoying a concert of various chirps and buzzes coming from the surrounding forest. During the day, sometimes an individual will whistle or tweet like a bird. In wet years, bullfrogs croak from the seasonal stream several hundred feet away.

You’ll never see amphibians here in full daylight, they only come out of the trees on summer nights. Some years there are so many on the ground, a flashlight is a must, even if there’s a full moon: some of them are really small and hard to spot. The other night, I accidently stepped on one, despite having a flashlight. Fortunately, the ground was very muddy in that spot, being next to the outdoor sink and a worn-out leaking hose (replacement on order). As I stepped, I realized that my foot was on something that it shouldn’t be. Quickly pulling back, I found the little guy nose-down in the mud, practically submerged in goo. Using my boot toe like an excavator, I freed him from the muck and he wasted no time hopping away to a safer, more out of the way, place. That left dozens of other amphibians hanging out around the sink where the ground is cool, wet, and refreshing.

Science makes no distinction between frogs and toads. They’re all amphibians, taxonomically. The scientific classification is identical for frogs and toads. Differentiation is by the species only.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Amphibia

Clade: Salientia

Order: Anura

‘Frogs’ and ‘toads’ are non-scientific names describing Salientia Anura, but if one insists on calling a frog a frog or a toad a toad, the only reliable way to identify one or the other is by the length of their rear legs. A frog’s legs are longer than its body, while a toad’s legs are shorter than its body. As a result, frogs can jump long distances, while a toad only hops short distances, practically no further than its body length.

If amphibian music and cuteness doesn’t make you a fan, there’s another reason to like amphibians:, they eat lots of insects, especially mosquitoes.

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About Richard Doud 486 Articles
Learning is a life-long endeavor. Never stop learning. No one is right all the time. No one is wrong all the time. No exceptions to these rules.