Frogs | EcoTarium


tree frog

At the EcoTarium

You can find a variety of frogs at the EcoTarium. Our gray tree frogs and a bull frog live in the Freshwater exhibit on the museum's lower level. You will also find frogs (and tadpoles!) every spring and summer in our upper and lower ponds.

About Frogs

Frogs are amphibians--a group of creatures that spend part of their lives in water and part on land.  Most begin life in the water with gills and a tail that are replaced with lungs and legs as they grow older.  This change, or metamorphosis, allows them to live on land.  Most are carnivorous, eating small insects, fish, and sometimes smaller amphibians.

Amphibians are cold-blooded, which means they regulate body temperature by using the environment around them.  Since amphibians breathe through their moist skin and need lots of clean water to survive, they are vulnerable to any pollution in the air and water.  Scientists often use amphibians as ‘ecological indicators’; if a scientist finds lots of healthy amphibians in a forest or pond, then the scientist knows that the habitat is probably clean and healthy.

The Bull Frog is the largest of the North American frogs, growing up to 8 inches in body length and 1.1 lb.(0.5 kg)- that’s the size and weight of a head of iceberg lettuce!  Bullfrogs have small, bumpy teeth on their upper jaw used for hanging on to prey.  They have voracious appetites, eating birds, bats, mice, smaller frogs, and anything else small enough to catch.  This high-volume eating helps keep the mosquito population down, but is a problem in areas where bullfrogs are introduced (not native), reducing the food available for other frogs.

Gray Tree Frogs are small frogs (1.5 to 2 inches long) native to North America and live in the trees (arboreal).  They have bumpy skin and are green or gray to blend into the trees and hide from predators.  Individuals can change their skin color in seconds and tend to be darker the colder it is.  During the winter, gray tree frogs hibernate underground and freeze solid before thawing out in the spring.  This would kill most animals, but gray tree frogs have natural antifreeze based on sugar that protects their cells from damage by ice crystals.