Frog-Themed Activities in Honor of World Frog Day!

Spring is finally here — and so is World Frog Day! The weather is gradually warming up and plants are bursting through the soil, preparing to dazzle us with their blooms. Spring also brings the beautiful sounds of frogs and toads calling to each other. In honor of World Frog Day, we are sharing frog-themed activities that can be done at home with minimal supplies.

PT Borneo eared frog

Frogs live on six of the Earth’s seven continents, all of them except Antarctica. They are all different colors and sizes. The largest species of frog, the goliath frog, measures 8” to 12” in length. That is about the size of a piece of copy paper!  The smallest known frog, one of the microhylid frogs, measures less than half an inch, about the width of a regular size paperclip. If you have children at home, pull out a paper clip and a piece of copy paper. Have them compare the items to objects around the house to see what is larger than the world’s largest frog and what is smaller than the world’s smallest frog. Comparing sizes of different things helps people build number sense, or an intuitive understanding of numbers, an important skill for all of us to master, especially young children.

Green Mantella - Adam Dewey

Michigan is home to 13 species of frogs and toads. It is usually easier to hear them calling or singing to each other, than it is to actually see them. That is because they are well camouflaged, meaning they blend in with their surroundings. It is important to know which species of frogs and toads live in certain areas. They are considered bioindicators, which means they are species of animals who are greatly impacted by the health of the environment. If the water, wetlands and other places they live are polluted or contaminated, they cannot survive. If their habitat is clean and healthy, many species or individuals will be living there, all calling out to each other in a beautiful chorus.

FrogWatch - Bullfrog

The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) leads a FrogWatch Chapter (aza.org/frogwatch and detroitzoo.org/animals/frogwatch/) to train people, like you, to recognize and record frog calls around Michigan. The data that people submit helps DZS staff and researchers to analyze and better understand frog populations throughout our area and across the country.

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This spring, consider spending time outside in the evening to listen for frogs and toads. You can practice being a frog and toad researcher, or a citizen scientist, by learning the calls and recording information like date, temperature, weather conditions, the time you start and stop listening, and the species you hear. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has short recordings of each species on their website to help you learn them. Practicing recording data is an important skill, especially for kids. Send your data to Rebecca Johnson (rjohnson@dzs.org) or Mike Reed (mreed@dzs.org). Next year, you can join us for training to become a certified FrogWatch participant. The earliest calling frogs will be starting soon, the wood frogs and spring peepers, so pick a night where the temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit and head outside to listen!

 

Animal Welfare: Animals After Dark

Stephanie Allard, Ph.D., is the Director of Animal Welfare for the Detroit Zoological Society and oversees the Center for Zoo Animal Welfare.

Have you ever wondered what the animals do at night when the Detroit Zoo is closed? Some animals, like gorillas and lizards, are most active during the day – known as diurnal – others, like aardvarks and beavers, are most active at night – known as nocturnal – and some have other activity patterns.Kaatie the aardvark - Patti Truesdell

It is important for us to understand the activity patterns of the different animals that live at the Zoo because we have a responsibility to meet their needs all of the time – not just when the Zoo is open to our visitors during normal business hours. For some species, there is already a lot of information available about when they are active and when they spend more time resting. This can help us plan how to best provide them with the opportunities they need to thrive. For others, it can be helpful to monitor their behavior so that we can make informed decisions about each individual animal’s care and welfare.

Jabari the giraffeGiraffes are a good example of this, as it is a species that sleeps for short durations several times a day. In the wild, giraffes need to be constantly on alert for predators. Since this is not the case in a Zoo setting, the sleep and activity patterns of giraffes vary, therefore we wanted to determine what they were for the giraffes here. We spent time monitoring the behavior of the 7-year-old adult male giraffe, Jabari, and the 6-year-old female giraffe, Kivuli, during the night and found that they do spend periods of time resting and ruminating. However, they do have activity peaks as well. Having this kind of information presents us with the chance to develop ways to provide them with things like additional foraging and feeding opportunities throughout the night, which we have done.

It is so important that we always seek additional knowledge to help us ensure that the needs of all the animals who call the Zoo home are met, even when we are not there to see it.

– Dr. Stephanie Allard