Wednesday, May 9, 2012


It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Why not transport bullfrogs from Eastern and Midwestern states to the Pacific Northwest and release them? Their legs are good eating, Depression-era frog farmers figured, and they were also released by state wildlife agencies as a new game animal in the 1920s and '30s.

After all, the watery Northwest seemed like welcoming habitat for bullfrogs. A little too welcoming, as it turns out.

The bullfrog has few predators here, and because it is considerably larger than our native frogs, it not only outcompetes them for territory and food but eats them as well. Where bullfrogs thrive in the PNW, you're unlikely to find any other frog. The big frog is also implicated in the precipitous decline of western pond turtles.

Really, the bullfrog will eat just about anything it can wrap its huge mouth around--the biggest ones even eat ducklings and small mammals such as mice. Like other frogs, they lack teeth, and so swallow their prey whole, using both forelegs to cram in the creatures if necessary. It even pulls its bulging eyes down into their sockets (just as it does when it blinks) and uses them to help stuff the food down its gullet.

Non-native? Yup.
Invasive? Uh-huh.
Here to stay? 'Fraid so.


  1. Maybe it is the habitat that makes for bull frog horror stories, we were lucky. Many years ago there was a sizable pond at the bottom of the hill, there were bull frogs of assorted sizes, many other kinds of frogs and plenty of painted turtles. There were fish, eels came inland in the summer. There were also tiny crayfish, salamanders, snapping turtles and muskrats. It seemed balanced and about the only time you saw a bull frog wolfing down something was when one was trying to eat the plastic bobber at the end of the fishing line. It wouldn't have been the same without the bull frogs. You could always hear them above everything else.  The two biggest frogs were either green or black.

  2. Wow---here's hoping they don't do to the PNW what  the non-native pythons are doing in the Everglades---destroying the entire ecosystem.  Had no idea about bullfrogs---thought all frogs were good---thnx for this.    

  3. Sixty years ago, in the low-tech era of teepee burners and select-cut logging, log trucks were unloaded by pulling up next to the mill pond and dropping the side so all the logs fell into the pond.  Our mill pond was the first place in our area to get bullfrogs, and I remember my older brothers bringing home  powerful, angry frogs the size of dinner plates.  They were frightening to a little kid.  Especially since they they would pee with a vengence.

  4. They eat little ducklings!!!?????
    Okay, we need to learn how to go frog gigging and get rid of these suckers!!!  Or tell a lot of rednecks that there is an overabundance of frogs legs around here! LOL

  5. The amphibians were the dominant species 300 million years
    ago. They were very big and had powerful jaws, the forerunners of the reptile
    dinosaurs. They predated both the reptiles and the prehistoric mammals.

    For many of today's
    amphibians their run on Earth is coming to an end or recently already has for
    many species. This is because they live “in the water” and act as canaries in
    the coal mine for the cleanliness of water on land and in the air. The water is
    in them as much as they are in the water. They lay their eggs in water without
    shells or any kind of real protection. Their skin and their eggs are very soft
    and quite sensitive to UV light.

    A lot of amphibians are adapting and evolving but it would
    appear many are not going to be able to make the sharp turn coming up in the
    road of their existence. This time we have modified their road and we have
    created the sharp turn in their road. Obviously they have had a very bumpy road
    long before people arrived, but these are the supposed survivors that are
    getting clipped now.

    Besides having a big mouth and a big appetite the bullfrogs
    are apparently carriers of the fungal epidemic that could be one of the things
    helping to kill off amphibian populations worldwide. People are transporting
    the bull frogs as commercial products everywhere, thus helping to spread the
    fungal epidemic. It apparently is not as lethal to the bull frogs as it is
    to other amphibians.

    Perhaps because the bullfrogs act more like people than
    the other amphibians they might survive the long run. People will probably be
    eating bullfrog legs on Mars or the Moon fifty years from now. Bullfrog farm franchises are now available for investment on planet Earth. I wonder if here is a noise ordinance for bullfrog farms?

  6. Yup, bullfrogs do fine in their own habitat, where other species have evolved alongside to keep them in check--but they don't have many predators here in the PNW so they wreak havoc. 

  7. I grew up with the belly-whomp of bull frogs sounding every summer night.  I'm glad Roxie volunteered to go gigging with me.  It's more fun than hunting snipe.

  8. I had no idea that bull frogs were that menacing. We human beings are also tampering (sometimes thoughtlessly) with the balance of nature and then screaming bloody murder when things go sideways.  What to do? What to do?  The only good thing is the frogs aren't as big as the pythons and boas invading the Everglades.  

  9. It always "seems" like a good idea...