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Chorus frogs signal spring

A chorus frog is no larger than a thumb when fully grown. (Sheryl DeVore/Tribune)

A chorus frog is no larger than a thumb when fully grown. (Sheryl DeVore/Tribune)

It’s no bigger than your thumb, but its song can resonate across the marshes.  In fact, when a group of these amphibians called chorus frogs get going, it can sound like a giant rubbing his thumb across a huge comb. In other words, it’s difficult to see this little harbinger of spring, but  it’s easy to hear it. In fact, you can hear chorus frogs at least a-half mile away from where they’re at.

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As soon as a small pond’s edge is free of ice, the chorus frogs head on over and start singing.  You won’t find them near large lakes–they need small bodies of water with no fish. Fish would scarf them up like appetizers. Instead, they prefer temporary pools in woods, edges of marshes or even a water-filled ditch.

Chorus frogs belong to the tree frog family– a group of tiny 1-inch long frogs, some of which have suction cups on their legs to crawl up a tree more easily. They spend winters buried at the bottom of a muddy pond–then awaken to start the song.  If you get the chance to see them sing, you’ll notice the throat inflating and looking like the bubble that can be made while chewing gum. The inflation helps amplify the sound.

A chorus frog notes your presence–if you get too close, it stops singing and buries itself into mud until you leave.

The frogs mate, and then females lay clusters of egg–up to 1,500 in one season, attached to vegetation just beneath the water’s surface.

Then the transformation from tadpole to adult begins–when the young reach adulthood, it’s time for them to join their parents and siblings buried someplace near their chosen pond to hibernate until next spring.



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