Let’s call it the frog days of summer. Even in a very urban area such as ours, our green friends are on display, if you know where to look.
According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, there are 13 species of frogs and toads in the District of Columbia. While we do not have a herpetologist on staff at The Uncommon District, we are fairly confident that all of the frogs we’ve photographed in D.C. proper are American bullfrogs, fabled in song (“Jeremiah was a…”) and story (see Mark Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”). A few quick facts:
- Bullfrogs are the largest frog species in North America
- Breeding season runs from spring to early summer (so, right now!)
- Bullfrogs often dominate habitats, pushing out other species of amphibians
- Bullfrogs will eat almost anything, including other bullfrogs. Per AmphibiaWeb, “Cannibalism is prevalent in a bullfrog’s diet, sometimes comprising up to 80% of its food.”
Where to see them
Your best bet for close encounters with frogs in the District may well be Tregaron Conservancy, a 13-acre green space in Cleveland Park. The lily pond near the Klingle Road entrance (map here) is an excellent place to meet some very non-camera-shy specimens. You may also want to be on the lookout at the National Arboretum, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and even the National Zoo.
You have to kiss a few frogs…
We have caught frogs showing public displays of affection in the midst of courting. As this is a family site, we have decided not to include images from later in the mating process.
Most male frogs, regardless of species, have a flexible membrane called a vocal sac that inflates to let the male amplify its mating call.
At times, you can actually see the vibrations caused by the frog’s call in the water around it.
It’s not that easy being… blue?
Kermit was not wrong — many frogs are green. However, at Tregaron, we spotted one with axanthism, a mutation that prevents the frog from producing yellow pigment. As a result, it looks blue.
Our prime suspect
This spring, we noticed that there were fewer bullfrogs in Tregaron’s lily pond than we’ve seen in previous years. Water snakes have been seen in the pond, and we have our suspicions about their role in the declining population, though no hard proof.
While The Uncommon District typically restricts itself to the sights of D.C., we could not resist sharing some frog photos from Huntley Meadow Park in northern Virginia. Among the other delights of nature that you can spot in the park are tiny green treefrogs, which often don’t exceed the size of a thumb.