Upping your frog hospitality

I couldn’t believe the inventiveness of this fellow in Australia (that’s him in the video below) who, after discovering a frog living in his fence post, proceeds to fine tune a better home for the wee thing (whom he names Frod) after a series of night ops-style observations. With some fancy 3D printing and a lot of tweaking, he winds up with an elaborate amphibian home-and-leisure complex which includes:

• a pool and patio

• a mating pond (and subsequently a tadpole ramp)

• a safe room

• a spaceship-shaped bug attractor.

He even considered the acoustics for “increased ribbit amplification”. You have to watch this two-minute video to see the whole hilarious and yet mind-blowing thing.

If you happen to have a spare 3D printer at home, I suggest you get inspired by this fellow and try out your own frog-forward play pad. But there are far simpler ways to help our small green neighbours. For a really great read on what to consider when building a frog pond and beyond, check out “You Should Build a Frog Pond” by Emma Marris, published in The Atlantic’s Planet series. Truth be told, that’s how I found out about this video.

Build it and they will come

Lily pond

Frogs as well as newts and salamanders live just about everywhere in the southern half of Canada and north and east parts of the U.S., including most major urban areas. And they need our help. According to Marris, 41% of amphibians are threatened with extinction at this point. But the good news is that frogs and their ilk will very likely show up and take advantage of your efforts to provide them with the comforts of home. Studies have shown that frogs aren’t particular about the size or style of their hang out, be it naturally occurring or man-made. So you don’t have to invest in a huge Giverny-style lily-pad sprinkled work of art. What they are far more concerned about is getting in, out and about safely. Here are some important criteria:

  1. Frogs need both water and land. If you want to build a little frog pond, make sure it’s situated on or near grass or dirt not, say, surrounded by concrete.
  2. Make sure access to the pond, whatever its size, is well protected so your frog guests can come and go discreetly. That means having lots of plants growing around and, if possible, in the pond.
  3. Resist the urge to keep your frog pond clean and tidy. Messy works for frogs. Even bird poop that’s fallen into the water is good news for frogs because this natural fertilizer eventually attracts pond organisms that frogs love to eat.
  4. Plant a variety of insect-attracting plants such as ferns, black-eyed Susans, Joe Pye weed, hellebore and sedums conveniently nearby.

No place like home

Frog on stone

When it comes to creating shelter for your green guests, the half-buried clay pot tilted on one side is, of course, the classic. But if you want to get stylish, there are a ton of inspirations. For instance, check out the very chic ikebana-esque frog hotel designed by Ashleigh Miller (also an Australian). When you’ve got the will but not the time, you can always just buy a frog home like the cute handmade glazed stoneware toad homes (complete with tiny hobbit-style chimney) offered on Etsy.

According to the The National Wildlife Federation, early spring is an ideal time to create a frog-friendly habitat. Here’s to happy frogs and their homes!

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