Frogs are the member of short-bodied, tailless amphibians under order Anura (meaning without tail in ancient Greek). Frogs are widely distributed species ranging from the tropics to subarctic regions of the planet. There are about 7,300 recorded species in the world. Nepal alone has 81 species of frogs (including 10 endemic species).
Frogs are an inevitable species of the nature, play multiple ecological roles and also an important food source for many predator species like snakes, birds, fish, and also for humans. For example, in tadpole stage it consumes rotten leaves, dead animals, and other debris maintaining clean water. Adult frog feeds on insects like mosquitoes, flies, etc. safeguard humans from different transferable diseases. Frogs also serve as bioindicator. Their body is made of permeable skin they can absorbs any toxic chemical in their environment. So, the healthy population of frogs replicate the fact that the surrounding environment is healthy.
Frogs have also religious and cultural values. In Nepal, especially Newars of Kathmandu valley offer food to frogs in Shrawan month on the day of Janai Purnima called Byanja Naka: Wanegu (feeding frogs). This is the time when the rice has been planted for about a month and started to grow and its healthy growth is ensuring by frogs devouring harmful insects and pest like caterpillars, rice hispas (Hispaarmigera), grasshoppers (Hieroglyphusbanian, H. orziovra, H. nigroreplates), rice worms (Numphuladepuntatis), etc. Also, people believed that frogs are recognized as gods of nature and messengers of the god of rain and help in good harvest bringing rainfall. So, in gratitude for this service, the frog is offered with various delicacies.
Also, they are fed in a belief that serving frogs with delicacies helps to wash away all the sins committed by killing frogs and insects with spades during rice plantation. In some rural places of Nepal there is also a tradition of organizing weddings for frogs to appease the rain god.
Besides their importance, the rapid changing land use pattern has blown off the frog habitats and poses a threat to their extinction. An increase in excessive use of pesticides and insecticides in agricultural land has polluted the habitable land and groundwater. The rapid increase in deforestation and urbanization is contributing in climate change resulting in a loss in frog population.
The frog’s population is declining and this need to be checked. For this we need to ensure less use of insecticides and pesticides in agricultural land, ban the disposal of wastes in water bodies, promote the use of rechargeable batteries, switching dissection in science lab to virtual dissection software like Digital Frog 2.5, reforestation, etc.
The World Frog Day is celebrated every year on March 20 aiming to raise awareness about amphibian (Frog) found on land and water both. This day has been celebrating with an intention of saving many different species of frog from going extinct.
We mention here some fascinating facts about these four-legged hoppers to celebrate the day of this fascinating species.
- Frogs are highly adaptable that they can be found in almost everywhere, except in Antarctica.
- The largest frog discovered yet is the Goliath frog (13.5 inches long) and the smallest is the gold frog (0.39 inches long).
- The sex of frogs can be easily distinguished as if tympanum lies beneath the eye is larger than the eye, it is male and if smaller, it is female.
- Even frogs shed their skins.
- Frog displays a range of color and some frogs can change the color as per light, temperature, humidity, surroundings or even with mood.
- Frogs can drink water through their skin by absorbing it through their drinking patch located on their belly.
- Frogs are cold-blooded animals and hibernate during winter season.
- Some frogs like the golden poison frog are so poisonous that their poison can kill 10 grown men.
Sanej is an ecologist and keen traveler interested in highland biodiversity. He has been working for the butterfly conservation for a while now.