Monday, April 11, 2011

Love is in the Water

It’s spring again! The time of year that signals the start of warm weather, green grass and bright flowers, baseball, BBQs, and amplexing. That’s right, you heard me … amplexing.

And, while this may not float your boat this time of year, it is definitely on the minds of our little African dwarf frogs.

Spring is mating season for frogs, the time of year when frogs become a little more aggressive … and a little more provocative. For the most part, the mating season passes quickly, but it undoubtedly raises very stimulating questions about the behavior of your frogs.

First, it doesn’t matter whether you have a male and female in an aquarium. When mating season starts, he will start his mating ritual without reservations and regardless of whom he shares company with. Dwarf frogs have very poor vision, so most of the time they can’t see what is in their aquarium anyway. So when the season of love starts, so does your frog.

He will start by performing his mating dance, which consists of arching his back and kicking outward. This is accompanied by soft humming, which is your frog crooning to Sinatra. When it is very quiet, you can hear this beautiful singing. He typically prefers to sing at night, which is when your frogs are more active, but you may hear him sing any time of the day.

This is when it becomes interesting. If the there is a mate in the water, and sometimes even if there is just another male frog, the crooning frog will grab his companion around the waist just above the lower legs, as if engaging in a big-brother type of bear hug from behind … and he will not let go. This is “amplexing”. If he is grasped to a female, the female will swim to the top of the water and release her eggs, which are later fertilized in the water by the male after the ritual. If your frog is affixed to another male, well then all bets are off. A fight will seemingly ensue, with the winner gaining bragging rights at the next major sporting event they attend with their friends. They prefer to call amplexing a “bro hug”. Regardless, this behavior is completely natural and nothing to be concerned about.

African dwarf frogs are very unique breed of frogs, because they will not grow very large and actually learn to adapt to the environment they are in. Unfortunately, their eggs and off spring aren’t as adaptable, and often the water conditions in an aquarium are not conducive for raising fertilized frog eggs to maturity. More often, the adult frogs, given their lack of proper eyesight, will mistake the floating eggs as food and … well, you can conclude your own ending to this paragraph.

In all, the ritual looks as though the frogs are engaging in a fight, and often individuals believe that one frog is trying to hold the other frog down. This is not the case. While it’s not dinner and flowers, this is actually froggie romance … se la vi. It’s natural, and there is nothing you need to worry about or need to do.

So, when it’s time to make up the family picnic and head out for a day at the park, just remember that someone in your house may have different plans, and it doesn’t’ involve taking in a baseball game in your absence … more like a wrestling match.

We wish to thank the readers of our facebook page who submitted the photos included in this article-ED.

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