Visitor

I was just sitting down at the computer this morning when I noticed something moving behind the front door. “White-footed mouse,” I thought. But it seemed a little small for a mouse.

green frog indoors

It was a frog. My first instinct was to prop the screen door open and herd it outside. But its belly was caked with dust bunnies — it must’ve spend the night under a bookcase — and the dust included a number of long hairs. I soon realized that all four of its webbed feet were tangled in hair, and it was having trouble moving.

I picked it up and tried to pull all the gunk off of it, but it proved to be a delicate operation, so I carried it up to my parents’ house. Dad is very good at this sort of painstaking task.

green frog cleanup

It took him about five minutes to carefully snip the hairs free with a nail clipper and wash the frog off in a pan of water. I called Mom down to identify the frog, and after poring over the books we decided it was probably a half-grown green frog (though we’re open to other suggestions, too). We only have a small stream, but apparently green frogs are fine with that. They’re habitat generalists. They like to hang out under logs near streams, apparently, so it could be that this frog found the crack under my door inviting.

The Wikipedia article on the green frog calls it “primarily nocturnal,” but adds that it “is not as wary as many other species of frog. Fleet of foot and difficult to spot, this frog is often noted only indirectly as it flees into the water.” If our identification is correct, it’s a new species record for the mountain. Who knows how long its kind has been hiding out here? Unless the juveniles really disperse widely, I’d say we have a breeding population.

After Dad got it thoroughly cleaned off, I carried it down below my house and released it beside the stream. It was by this point quite habituated to human hands, however, and didn’t want to leave; I had to poke it with a finger to get it to hop off into the weeds.

Cute as it was, I hope it doesn’t try to return to the house. There are way too many milk snakes and black snakes in the walls to make this a hospitable environment for frogs — to say nothing of the groundhogs, porcupines, raccoons, skunks, and feral cats that have been known to inhabit the crawlspace under the floor. It’s lucky for the frog that it didn’t tangle with anything larger than a dust bunny.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

11 Comments


  1. What a cute frog – well done to you and your Dad for looking after it so well. Very interesting to hear it might be a new species for the area. Actually its just so good to read anything positive about frogs given the situation with global amphibian extinctions

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  2. aw i love that picture where you’re cradling the frog. i think i would have been paralyzed with fear if i saw one by my front door.

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  3. nice photos as always, and what a find!

    this reminds me of one night when I was 14, squinting in the hall light on the way to a piss. this squirming apparaion of a wooly tiger salamander came walking straight at me. this gave me some serious pee-shivers until I realized who it was: I’d caught him earlier that year and he’d since lost his gills and then escaped. w/ him it was just a bunch of white carpet lint so it washed off pretty easily. welcome back little pal.

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  4. Crikey! That’s some fauna you’ve got in your house. With all those mammals beneath your floor you could probably cut down on the heating during winter.

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  5. “There are way too many milk snakes and black snakes in the walls to make this a hospitable environment for frogs — to say nothing of the groundhogs, porcupines, raccoons, skunks, and feral cats”

    I’m surprised a white-footed mouse would get within a mile… anyway, poor frog to stumble into Hairworld….

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  6. Um, nice housekeeping, Dave. ;-) Very cute frog. Your story reminds me of watching my dad once carefully unhook a poor frog that some kids had accidentally caught on their fish hook at a stream. Much bigger one that that little visitor of yours.

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  7. marja-leena – Thanks. I was pleased with that line, too!

    CGP – Yeah. Well, we seem to be doing O.K. with the few amphibian species that occur right here on the mountain, but we don’t have any rare species. I expect this particular species has been present down at the bottom of the hollow for a long time, but has only recently dispersed up the hollow.

    lissa – Actually that’s my dad’s hands in the second photo here. Afraid of a frog? Really? They’re quite harmless, trust me.

    eped – That’s interesting that it could’ve survived in your house all that time. Did you have a damp basement or something?

    pohanginapete – Yeah, no kidding. But for a real thermal contribution, I’d need to get several bears under there, I think. (I know, I should be carful what I wish for.)

    David – Well, the mice tend not to stick around too long.

    leslee – Yes, I have now bared to the world my lousy housekeeping.

    I wonder if that hooked frog lived? I suppose so, if the hook didn’t go too deep.

    Green frogs are actually legal to harvest in PA, though I can’t imagine too many people do.

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  8. Holy Cow! That David Woo poem you linked to on your sidebar is great! Laugh through tears? No. Crouched and cold on a ledge behind a waterfall, I hoot. That’s the most fun I’ve had in some time. What a great gathering of ingredients it is. Enough already!

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  9. Wow. I love frogs, but I am also terrified of them. I can touch snakes, but not frogs. I wonder why…

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  10. That’s interesting. Until Lissa’s comment above, I’d never heard of this phobia.

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