- The common frog or Rana Temporaria – and he lives in my pond!
I have a secret passion… (no, not Justin Bieber) I am fascinated by amphibians. It began at an early age, I think I was about four, and we had a little pond in the garden. It was a beautiful summer’s day, as indeed they all seem to be when you are young, and I was sat by the side of the pond, with my black cat Snoopy, watching the comings and goings of the bees on the lavender bush. Suddenly, a slow crawling movement caught my eye. I turned to look, and a magical, mythical creature hauled itself onto a flat rock. It was marvellous! Smooth, dark shiny sides with a go-faster stripe of vivid red, and a leathery frill gracing the top of its back all the way down to the tapered tip of its tail.
This wonderful tiny monster turned to look at me imperiously, out of golden eyes. The cat, bemused by my interest in this thing, reached out a paw to poke it and at once it slipped away into the weed festooned depths of our little pond.
“Mummy! MUMMY! There’s a dragon in the pond!” I ran inside, breathless with excitement at the fact a creature from storybooks was living in our pond. The cat followed me in, muttering under his breath:
“Stupid child! It’s a small slimy mouse!”
I now know that it was in fact a Great Crested Newt, but so began my fondness and fascination with the amphibian world.
I had a Ladybird book, I think it was: ‘The Princess and The Frog’ – forget the stupid princess, I loved the pictures of the frog, beautifully detailed in shades of green with golden eyes and amazing webbed feet. Every time we went to the pet shop I would press my nose against the glass tanks where frogs sat complacently within, gulping happily to themselves. Toads were just as entrancing, with their delicate warty skin like brown currant buns. Tropical frogs amaze me, little enamelled pieces of jewellery made live.
My partner loves fish, consequently we have always had a pond. I was overjoyed when our first frogs moved in.
“Well, as long as the rent’s reasonable, we’ll give it a trial? Six months…”
Best keyring ever! – sitting on a chunk of Green Calcite, a mental healer which helps restore balance to the mind…
I love to hear them croaking on summers’ evenings, challenging each other to frogly duels for the hand of the frog princess… I watch anxiously as the tadpoles wriggle from their jelly bags and applaud their progress as they develop tiny arms and legs. Double joy when I recently discovered we have breeding toads as well, beaming amiably at me as I inadvertently interrupted them in toadish congress as I was clearing some dead leaves. I was poking around on WordPress and I found a wonderful blog The Frog Lady, she recently completed a challenge, a frog for every letter of the alphabet – what an achievement! – and also offers practical advice on caring for your own frogs.
My cats find as much enjoyment out of frogs as I do… although perhaps in different ways… Once, my old cat found one and brought it into the house where he left it in the hall. I was first up in the morning and I thought I was perhaps hallucinating, as a large and rather annoyed frog hopped slowly towards me:
“If you’ll just point me in the right direction, I’ll let myself out, but really, let your cat know I’ll be asking for compensation next time…” My current girls have made the discovery that if they tap the frog with a paw, it will emit a high pitched squeak. Of course I ensure that no frog is distressed by my cats’ attention, there are plenty of froggy hiding places out of the reach of questing feline paws. Also, frogs secrete an unpleasant tasting mucus that deters predators. Now, apart from the occasional crossing of paths, my cats and frogs leave each other alone, apart from the expected pleasantries.
“Morning girls, looking lovely…”
“Ooh, he’s a saucy one, that frog!”
Ting Tong enjoying the sunshine
To me then, there is nothing more pleasant on a summer’s evening than to sit outside with a cup of tea and my cats, watching the dragonflies dancing across the pond’s surface and listening to my frog orchestra.
All photos were taken by my son!