Friday, March 14, 2008

It's Springtime! (or not)

We have been surprised that the little pond outside our house is home to about 35 frogs. We previously thought that only koi were the main inhabitants of this small pond, and now that it has gotten warmer recently, the frogs are out in force. The last two weeks in February were quite warm, by Swiss standards.

This site maintained by the Swiss weather service MeteoSwiss shows the actual temperature versus the average. You can see that last two weeks of February is well above average. I don't think the frogs in our pond knew that they were going to be in for two more snowy days, and they emerged ready to procreate. Our pond had frogs everywhere. On top of each other. Some parts were writhing orgies of frog-pile. They emerged from the pond long enough to lay about a zillion tadpole eggs. Walking around our patio in the evening had to be done carefully, for fear of stepping on one.

One evening, a frog wandered all the way to our front door, and looked as if he was trying to get inside through the kitty door. Stacy made me get him out of the way. Of course, I had to pick him up and look closely. It was rather a chilly night, and his cold-blooded disposition really enjoyed the few minutes of sitting in my warm hands. I took the frog inside to show to Joey, who was terrified. He hid his head under the pillow, "I don't want to look at the frog!" His mood turned as I was about to return the frog to the pond. I think Joey only got a short glimpse of our amphibian friend from outside, and he changed his whole demeanor. "I like the little frogs." Joey said. It soon became a struggle to return my new friend outside, as Joey wanted to keep him; at least long enough to look at him.

It snowed twice in the first week of March, and we haven't seen the frogs since then. I hope they didn't get frozen to death (the frogs and the tadpoles). I suspect they are fine.

To be honest we don't really know if these are frogs or toads, so I am presuming they are frogs for the meantime. I have also recently learned that the difference between frogs and toads has no taxonomic basis, so maybe I should just refer to them as "Anura", the name of the biological order for "frogs and toads."

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