Friday, February 22, 2008

Frogs in The Woodlands Texas area

Croak… croak …croak….

We have an excellent Herpetology resource just a few miles down the road near the airport in Jesse Jones Park – Mike Howlett. Last night at McCullough school, he presented a “how to” identify local frogs and toads. Not only was the material excellent, but also his humor was super! Have you ever wondered what was making those noises outside (and sometimes inside)? He offered a few memory tips to identify these amphibians by their call and believe me; seniors need help in this area. Amphibians are endangered by our environmental non-consciousness just as birds, insects and animals. Ant poison is often over applied resulting in more than the inconvenience of these creatures. Construction in sandy soil areas has endangered two frogs and they are on the national endangered list. Their living environment has been more than encroached. It has been mostly removed. Introduction of species from other locations and competing amphibians for food sources, as well as lawn and garden poisons and fertilizer also affect the environment of these creatures.

Common toads and frogs in our area include the small Grey Frog, Gulf Coast Toad, Houston Toad, Cricket Frog, Spring Peeper tree frog, Western Chorus Frog, Rio Grand Chirping Frog (not native but here in abundance), Grey Tree Frog, Coats Grey Tree Frog, Green Tree Frog, Squirrel Tree Frog, Bull Frog, Bronze Frog, Southern Leopard Frog, Narrow Mouth Frog, and Herder Spade Foot Frog. Each one has a unique call. One can see the eggs on top of the water after a big rain. Toads’ eggs are laid in a double row and frogs’ eggs are laid in a glob.

Each of these creatures makes a unique sound. That is the way they manage to call their own species for social gatherings and mating. We humans are fortunate to be able to discern those calls, well enough to be able to go out, sit down and identify all the frogs in a given area and even be able to estimate the populations by their calls. Texas Parks and Wildlife sponsors a catalog process, which monitors area ponds and forest areas for their amphibian populations. One can adopt a pond for monitoring and cataloging by attending a class and getting the materials, including a CD of sounds for identifying these creatures.

OK, now let’s talk food chain! What creature is at the top of the food chain on some ponds and will eat a Crawfish? It is the Bull Frog! He will eat about anything that moves that is within reach of that sticky tongue. Those pinchers of a crawfish do not faze him at all. What is a threat to small birds that comes to take a drink on the pond? Again … the Bull Frog. Picture a frog with a mouth full of feathers. What looks like a snake but has legs? A Skink. What are those lizards called that change colors? Nope, not a chameleon, but an Anole! What are those translucent lizard-like creatures on the windows and sometimes get into the house at night? Mediterranean Geckoes. They are not native here but they are thriving here.

Later this Spring, I will go out in rain to listen to these creatures and hopefully I can find the time to get certified in frog monitoring on one of our Woodlands ponds. I may take one of my grandchildren with me. The children attending this lecture were obviously very interested and came to look at the living frogs in the bottles that Mike brought with him.

I highly recommend attending this Woodlands Association series of lectures on nature. The remaining lectures this Spring are “The Quiet Invasion” (invasive plants on March 26th and “Beyond Butterflies” on April 17th (should also be an interesting one for children).

Now let's change that croak to Peep ... peep ....peep


Loose banjo string sound...........Loose banjo string sound (bwang?)


I went away with a much different appreciation for an important resident of our forest.

1. Any book store: look for Amphibian field guides in the Texas book section.
2. Jesse Jones Park:
3. Texas Parks and Wildlife kids stuff:
4. Texas Parks and Wildlife Texas Amphibians Watch: