Feeling Froggy

South Carolina’s Lowcountry is home to more than 20 species of frogs living in our ponds, swamps, lakes, forests and fields.

Story + Photography by Robert Rommel

(above)

Sitting pretty

Green Treefrog on top of pickerelweed
The most visible frog in the Lowcountry is the Green Treefrog, often flocking to lights around houses to feed on the insects that are attracted to these lights. One reason for their abundance is that Green Treefrogs will lay their eggs in nearly any body of freshwater, including large ponds and marshes. Many of our other frogs will refuse to lay their eggs if there are any fish present. Tadpoles grow fast in the Lowcountry. Green Treefrogs will typically emerge from the water as frogs smaller than the nail of your pinkie finger less than two months after egg laying.


Frog tested

Bronze Frog resting on a mossy rock
Frogs generally have moist skin that is porous and can absorb air or water around them. Because they easily absorb chemicals dissolved in water, frogs are often used as environmental indicators for certain types of aquatic pollution.


Call me maybe

Southern Toad calling
The song of frogs and toads heralds the coming of springtime. In the Lowcountry a few species like the abundant Green Treefrog might call and breed throughout the year, but most of our frogs and toads begin calling sometime between February and April and, depending on weather, might continue on and off until October or even November. Most people know the deep resonating call of the bullfrog, but some frogs sound like birds, whistles, bells or dogs. One of our species even got its name when people decided its grunts sounded like those of farmyard pigs.


Peekaboo

Bronze Frog looking out from duckweeds
If you see two small eyes looking up at you from the surface of a lagoon, it could be a baby alligator but it might also be a frog. Frogs have a special membrane that they use to see equally well above and below water. People use their tongues to help swallow their food. Frog tongues are attached at the front of the mouth so they close their eyes and retract their eyes into their skull to help push food down as they swallow.


(click on gallery thumbnail for larger photo)