Here’s a sign of spring, if ever there was one – well, hundreds of signs of spring, in fact – as the frogs are out and croaking at Cosmeston’s dipping pond.
Though they come in a variety of colours, ranging from light green and yellow through to olive and light brown, these are all Common frogs (Rana temporaria). They’ve long hind legs for hopping and swimming, big eyes for spotting females, and strong front fingers for gripping on to those females once they find them. At dinnertime, they have a preference for small invertebrates like slugs and snails, and they, in turn, are much enjoyed by herons, crows, hedgehogs, otters, and rats.
Frogs have a special place in human culture: they have been used to predict the weather – bright healthy skin foretells fine weather, dull skin rain; they are the subject of numerous superstitions – a frog in the house is a portent of death or something similarly awful, yet frog bones might be worn around the neck as a cure-all; they feature in idioms – if your voice is a bit croaky, you are said to ‘have a frog in your throat’ – and in fairytales – a frog is transformed into a handsome price after being kissed by a beautiful princess. And I haven’t even mentioned one of the most well-known frogs of all, Kermit.