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Western Chorus Frog

Christmas and Carely 034The western chorus frog, Pseudacris triseriata, is a very small frog, barely over an inch long; males are slightly smaller than females. This is Minnesota’s smallest frog. Skin color is variable, ranging from green, gray red or light brown. It has three, dark longitudinal stripes on its back, which are helpful in identification. Western Chorus frogs need temporary or permanent waters without fish populations. They overwinter under logs and rocks adjacent to the water’s edge. Western chorus frogs are one of the first frogs to emerge in the spring, from late March through early April. They breed immediately and continue into early May.  Like other frogs, they call in the spring, and go silent when approached. I hear them singing all the time in spring, it sounds like someone running their thumb down the teeth of a comb. Their food consists of small prey, beetles, aquatic insects, other insects and spiders.

Christmas and Carely 032

Photo taken by Jonathan Benike

While I was weeding in the greenhouse three weeks ago, suddenly I saw on a leaf in front of me a tiny, metallic brownish frog with stripes down its back and through the eye. The frog was so cute, and so small. I figured it was a western chorus frog, but I wanted to consult my filed guide just to be sure. It was a most wonderful gift from above that brought me joy and a smile. It was like it was just suddenly there, hanging out, just watching me work. Spotting it immediately lifted my spirits. I thought last autumn I had seen a western chorus frog in the greenhouse but I never got a good photo to identify it. Perhaps it was the same frog. I gingerly picked up the tiny frog in my hand, and lifted it close to my face. The feel of its skin isn’t slimy, but almost soft and silky, and very thin, vulnerable. The coloring of its skin makes it appear like it is glittering, magical. Its tiny toes are a delight on my hand. Its vocal sac is inflated but it is making no sound. I love frog eyes; they are so beautiful and seem to have depth to them. Their eyes seem to be full of insight. A person can get lost in its eyes, fall into that depth and forget themselves for a bit, get outside oneself and the human realm and get caught up in other life. There is so much joy in spotting individual amphibians. I’m hesitant to put it down, and break the connection, it is so healing. I carefully held it in my hands while I waited for my brother to bring out my camera. I observed one of its hind feet was missing at the “ankle”, I couldn’t tell if it was an injury or a deformity.

Jonathan wasn’t comfortable holding the frog while I took a photo, so he snapped the photo instead. The frog was starting to get impatient by this point, and wanted to hop away. I set him down and took my camera, watching him go. I was given the great gift of beholding it, and am so very grateful. A few days later, I was given an even greater gift of seeing this frog again.

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