Inside Their
Remarkable World

Ellin Beltz
You're depressed so you are taking Prozac, or Paxil, Zoloft. I'd be the last to depress you even further, but turns out that these drugs are appearing in wastewater, and in turn, are causing impaired thyroid function in frogs. "Frogspawn exposed to low levels of Prozac was retarded in development and took longer than usual to transform to tadpoles," Beltz reports.

David Barry says it is hard to get worked up about the disappearance of creatures that carry their spawn about in their mouths, or those who --- after shedding their skin --- promptly eat it, or those that (as one writer said) sound like a room full of "chuckling old men."

And they look so geeky. California's red-legged frog looks like Peter Lorre with big fat (red!) lips, and the Argentine horned frog looks like a Dempsey Dumpster dressed up with stripes. The pink-bellied harlequin frog just got in from Mars, and the marine toad is not unlike those old men that play poker in Las Vegas, never smiling, squatting there with their poker chips.

The Marine toads were imported into Australia to flush out the sugar cane beetle, which they didn't, but they reproduced so rapidly, eating everything in their path that the government is talking "toadproof fences" to keep the bastards from taking control.

A toad can lay 20,000 eggs at a sitting and one study found that they eat 1,000 ants a day. Since Americans are fond of putting pesticides on their lawns, and since pesticides kill toads and frogs, they have disappeared and ants, as you may have noticed, are taking over your kitchen. Kids don't like toads because you pick one up and it pees on you ... and that story we reported in a previous issue about licking desert toads to get stoned is, according to the author, pure apocrypha. Do this to the Colorado River toad and you'll get virulently ill: they are so ugly that even a stoner would be a nut to try.

The author does not differentiate between frogs and toads for the simple reason that all toads are frogs. She also tells us that there are frogs that squeak, those that have hair, and the Australian green treefrog's name, Litoria caerulea, means "blue." Figure that one out. They are beautiful, if your taste runs to blue frogs, but the most beautiful of them all, if you ask me, is Reinwardt's flying frog, which sports yellow webs on its little green feet. And the African bullfrog looks just like my Uncle Carl after a big drunk, when you ask him how he's feeling. He's a little blue, too, and glowers.

--- Leslie Caruthers
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