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While walking through the Peninsula neighborhood this summer, especially if you walk a dog who noses through flowers, plants and bushes, you may have been surprised by a sudden movement—the leaping of a toad or green and yellow spotted leopard frog. Or in the evening, perhaps you called the family to see a tiny suction-cup-footed tree frog stuck to the outside of a window, waiting for dinner. You’ve probably listened to the mighty singing of tree frogs even if you didn’t know who made the song. These small creatures produce a mighty sound, as Emily Dickinson reported in her poem, “I’m Nobody:”
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!
How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!
Other times, frogs are shy, as the photo of a grey tree frog inside a daylily (taken by Peninsula resident Bill Case) shows.
We’re lucky to have these wild creatures living among us. According to AmbibiaWeb, with over 7,000 known species, amphibians are a vital cog in our ecosystems. On a local level, frogs and toads play an important role in pest control, including mosquitos.
Unfortunately, in the last twenty years, amphibians have faced serious world-wide decline. One third (1,856 species) are currently threatened, and experts believe that 168 species have disappeared altogether. Factors thought to contribute to the decline include reduced habitat, pesticides, fertilizers, pollution, invasive species, climate change and the rise of Amphibian Chytrid Fungus, a disease attacking amphibians across the globe.
So enjoy your amphibian wild neighbors and take care of them. Public or private, they serve an important function in our natural world.
Above: Photo by resident Bill Case in his garden
Below: Photo by resident Adam Pretorius of a frog on his front porch
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