Frog Patrol

Green tree frogEach morning when I log on to Twitter I leave a short message to report the results of the frog patrol. A few people have asked me what that’s about, so I thought I’d explain.

I live in sub-tropical Australia, where we have warm, humid summers and dry, cool to warm winters. We share our wonderful world with lots of frogs of a number of different species. The most obvious one is the Green Tree Frog. They hang about the house in various tight, dark locations (not trees). A favourite has become the hollow supporting pillars for the pergola. It acts as an amplifier, you see, so their mating calls go further.

We also have  these guys, seen here on a bromeliad because he has just been rescued. OthersFrog on bromeliad include the small, dark, burrowing frog (yes, they do burrow) and the horrible cane toad.

All of them need water to breed. What could be more inviting than that great big sparkly expanse of water – the swimming pool? The thing is, while it’s easy to get in, it’s not so easy getting out. It has smooth, vertical walls. That’s okay, frogs can swim. But eventually, the pool pump which circulates and chlorinates the water comes on. They are sucked inexorably towards the gaping maw of the inlet pipes. However, there is a skimmer box – a basket which prevents leaves and other debris from being sucked into the works. They can survive there for quite some time, fighting the current which resembles a flushing toilet but of course, eventually they tire and drown. When the pump shuts off, even if they have survived so far, they can’t escape.

Each morning I check the skimmer box and rescue any trapped frogs. Not one of them has thanked me yet – but I’ll assume they’re grateful. Cane toads are another matter. They are an introduced species so poisonous that they have cut a swathe through native species which prey on frogs and toads. They are also prolific breeders, spreading right through the top end of Australia. We remove them from the swimming pool and despatch them with a swift blow to the head.

During the winter months I’d assumed the cold water would deter the frogs and certainly that’s usually true – but having fished one dead frog out, I think it’s worth a few moments of my time to check. Summer’s on its way. Rescues will be needed. Or we won’t see this sort of thing.

Tiny green tree frog