Nature Nugget – Treefrogs

Treefrogs are adapted for an arboreal (in the trees) existence, with long limbs and digits that help them cling to twigs and bark. They also have large suction pads or adhesive discs at the tips of their toes, which gives them the ability to climb vertical surfaces, including glass windows. Mucus can be secreted from these toe pads to enable climbing on dry surfaces.

In North America, treefrogs come in various colors such as gray, green, or brown and may be patterned or plain. Many can change their color and pattern depending on conditions of light, moisture, temperature, stress, or general activity. In the tropics, where treefrog varieties are especially abundant, they are often brightly colored with various patterns and shades of red, blue, yellow, and green. Many treefrogs have flash colors on their hind legs and on the sides of their body, which are seen when the frog leaps but disappear from view when it lands and folds its legs.

With treefrogs, as well as with all amphibians, much of their respiration takes place through the skin, which must be kept moist for a useful exchange of gases. For this reason they can only survive in moist environments or in areas near water. For example, the Canyon Treefrog lives on boulders along permanent streams in canyons of the arid North American southwest.

Even though they are well adapted for an arboreal existence, only a few species ascend high into the trees. More common habitats include brushy thickets, swampland vegetation, moist woodlands, or even on the ground or burrowed into it.

Like most frogs, the treefrog’s diet consists mainly of insects and other small invertebrates, and it is not uncommon for them to visit windows and porches at night to feed on insects attracted by lights. Most are two inches or less in length, but the five-inch Cuban Treefrog, an immigrant from the West Indies to southern Florida, is the largest treefrog in North America and is cannibalistic toward smaller native treefrogs.

Many treefrogs are known as “rain frogs” because it is believed that their calls predict coming rain. The ears of treefrogs are well developed. Their calls, which are clear and melodious, are distinct and identifiable to species. This helps prevent mating between different species.

During the breeding season, male treefrogs sing to attract females, while perched on vegetation near water. Most males have paired or single vocal pouches that swell while they are calling. In some species the pouches puff out on either side on the back of the head. Other species have no sacs and apparently no voice. During breeding, females lay up to several dozen eggs in patches that float at the surface of the water in thin films. Eggs hatch within a week and the larvae, called tadpoles, transform into adults in about two months.

The Bible has very little to say about frogs, but in Exodus 8 is the story of the plague of frogs that the Lord sent against Pharaoh and all of Egypt, except the land of Goshen where the Israelites lived. Can you imagine not only frogs all over the ground and floor but all over the walls and furniture too! The Egyptians worshipped the Nile River and many of its creatures, including the frogs. Because they thought the frogs were sacred, they would not kill them. So as quick as they were removed from the houses and palaces, they would come back in. God used a plague of frogs against them to show that He had power over their gods and that He was the one and only true God!

Exodus 20:3 says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Even today some people worship the creation over the Creator. We have to be careful not to make a god out of any creature or thing. Anything that keeps us from our daily prayer and study time with God, that we put first before Him or that we spend too much time with is a god to us! This can be our job, our pets, and very often the television set. Let us always put God first in our lives.