Mailbox Frogs AKA Tree Frogs

Tree Frogs/ Mailbox Frogs

Prince, the Eastern gray tree frog, stayed here from December through March, but then climbed a tree and jumped to another in a leap worthy of the Olympics.  I was a little afraid for him, with “all those hungry critters out there,” but I think I can still distinguish his familiar trilling out there of an evening, and I think he’s been in the mailbox a couple of times this summer.  Their markings do vary, as well as changing depending on where they.  I’m also pretty sure he is the daddy and grand-daddy of some of the current frogs.  After all, he had a nutritional head start with all the crickets I bought for him.

Mailbox Frogs 2010

5/20, 6/15, 6/19, 21, & 28 (came back twice, stubborn frogs) 7/8, 7/24 ( Tiniest mailbox frog, as big as my baby finger nail),

8/4, 8/5, 8/9 (biggest) 8/10, 8/14 (twice)

8/21, 8/30, 8/31 — TWO!  9/1, 9/2 — looked like Prince! 9/4 (cold & went back in), 9/7, 9/10 (two), 9/12,

9/16 (green cheeks), 9/17, 9/22

8/3  Took a lovely mailbox frog to a tree this morning (It got to 100 degrees today, not good weather to be in that metal/brick oven), and then taught aqua-aerobics at the Y.

Tiny frog (size of middle finger nail) has been showing up on screen door to deck August 2, 4, 6.

8/14

Going out for the paper this morning, I caught a cricket just inside my front door and took him out to the grass.  Checked the mailbox, and there was today’s Eastern Gray Tree Frog.  This one was very dark brown, not as green as the others, but green underneath.  Settled him in the maple tree where he blended well with the bark.  It’s going to be in the high 90’s today, not a good day to spend in a brick-enclosed metal mailbox.

Went out to get mail — another frog in the mailbox!  This one was quicker and sneakier, kept hopping beyond my grasp, and found a hiding space I couldn’t reach.  I finally left him there, hiding in that safe corner.  Maybe it’s a new species, a true mailbox frog.  I decided that if he’s that lively, he’s probably okay with the temp.  I checked on him a bit later to see how he was doing.  If nothing else, opening the door should cool it a bit.

I just went out to check, and he was much more amenable to being caught.  The mailbox was warmer from the sun, so I suspect my hand felt cool to him (frog felt warm, and I know that’s not right).  I’ll bet the tree branch felt really good to him.

Someone explained to me that they seek dark, small, safe places, and that most of those, in nature, would be relatively cool . . . .

Lizards and frogs would both eat any insects, so that’s good. . .

(Karen Maslowski  “You are the human  ambassador to the amphibian kingdom!”

(Shelby Smith  “Mary, you are my new hero!”)

I heard from a woman who finds frogs in her bedroom every summer morning and takes them all outside.  She’s MY hero!  Really, they are so darned cute that it’s hard to give them back, but the Conservation agents assure me it’s for the best.

(Laura Broader Gorton Or someone keeps mailing you frogs! )

I didn’t see a stamp . . . Last summer I did wonder if someone, perhaps on the Tom Johnson crew, might have been putting them in, but I think they really can slip through the little opening by the hinge.

8/31

TWO! mailbox frogs today! One tiny one was there first, and since it was staying below 90 d., I let him stay a while but checked on him. He was joined by a larger one, and I got some photos, but none as cute as I would have gotten on first view, both looking out at me.  By the time I got the camera, they were fleeing to the back of the mailbox.

I went out at dusk to put them on a tree, and the little one was gone (hope he hopped safely away).  I got the larger one on my hand and took him toward a tree, but he hopped!! — over my shoulder and onto my back!  It was hard to be sure if he’d taken the opportunity to continue hopping to the grass or the tree (pretty lightweight frogs) and I didn’t want a reputation, so I went inside to take off my shirt and check for hitchhiking frogs.  I think he’s outside where the Conservation Department wants him to be. . . .

I’ll admit, I don’t see the appeal of the mailbox, but I’ve been told they want small, dark places to spend the day . . .

On very hot days, I evict them in the morning when I get the paper.  Lately, it’s been cooler and they seem to like the warmth.

9/1)  I just took a tiny frog to the tree at 5:00.  He may be the little one from yesterday.  If they go way to the back and don’t look out, they disappear in the dark.  He was so cute on the tree . . . looked like a tiny branch . . .

9/2

I may have to think about an auxiliary mailbox* . . . The mailbox frog this morning looks just like Prince.  I let him choose to go back in the mailbox, since temp. is staying in the 80’s (F) today.  Then I saw a cricket in the living room and instead of letting it go outside, I put it in the mailbox — it did NOT choose to stay in the mailbox, jumped right out, past me in a flash and GONE.  Smart cricket!

9/4 Cold morning, very stiff rubbery frog, who managed to sneak back in.   Now that temps are cooler, I’m not quite so insistent that they leave.  The mailbox is no longer an oven . . .

Mailbox frogs over the last few days (more photos on photos page) . .  pretty hard to spot once they get in the tree — clever camouflage!

Today I tried to catch a little one.  It disappeared and next time I looked, there was a big one.  I think that when they really want to be left alone, they hide in the ridges at the front of the mailbox where I cannot see or easily reach them.

Tiny . . . and very persistent. The biggest are silver dollar size; the smallest are the size of my baby fingernail.

I’ve been told that it’s hard to keep the wild ones alive, one reason I let Prince go as soon as there were warm days.  This way, also, his fate is whatever I say it is — no one can say otherwise.  In my version, he has sired generations of frogs, who all tell his story . . .

(Laraine Crampton The thing that amazes me is that they keep seeking out your mailbox. I wonder what it is about the box that attracts them . . . surely there are other places to hide, stay cool, find enclosure. I’ll say it again, I think they consider you to be their personal Six Flags: climb up the chute, wait a while, and this giant being lifts you up into the sky and sails you through space to land on your favorite tree).

Mary Garrett . . . and as Mom used to say about stray cats, if you feed them, they’ll keep coming back . . . 😉

9/7, 9/10 (two frogs)

9/12  Police car and other five cars passed by as I stood in kimono and sunhat taking mailbox photo . . . I’ll bet they wondered about me as I wondered about them on an otherwise quiet Sunday morning.

9/22

I forgot to evict the mailbox frog at dusk, so I just went out with a flashlight, expecting he would already have found his way out to hunt bugs, but no . . .

I think the colder weather slows them down; they don’t sing as much at night either.  I took him to the little maple tree, and then admired the full moon.  Nice!

9/23

Too funny!  I went out to see the full moon, and a little tree frog found its way into the house. . . and he wasn’t that easy to catch, let me tell you.  I made use of a big pitcher to corral him.  He seemed happy to be on the outside of the screen door . . .

9/28, 29, 30

10/12, 13, 14, 15, 16     Mr. Green Cheeks

Since it’s cooler, I’ve been waiting until almost dark to transport him on the “froggy thrill ride” (thanks, Laraine, for that concept) of my hand to safety in the little tree.

Some chilly days, he was so cold and stiff, it was like playing with a rubber frog, and he was in no hurry to leave my warm hand for a cold tree.  I stood shivering, wondering how the frog managed to train me so well.

On the 16th it was later, very dark, he was more frisky than usual.   He jumped up my arm, over my shoulder, onto my back, and then off somewhere in the dark grass (or really clover, as the grass has not done well, between grubs and the raccoons that want them).  He hasn’t been back in the mailbox since.  I hope he found a good place to sleep the winter away.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEa3_mlCX9g

10/25 One last frog, perhaps a reminder and promise that there will be more next year.  A friend at the Y wanted me to bring it in for a visit, but it didn’t look as if it wanted to leave its safe nook.  I called the Y with a message that she could come to my house if she wanted to see the mailbox frog in its “natural environment.”

*(Mabel Kaplan Hi Mary, Your story reminded me of a delightful picture book by Jackie French and illustrated by Dee Huxley: Hairy Charlie and the Frog. It tells how a frog took over Charlie’s letterbox and no amount of coaxing would get frog into an identical letterbox labelled ‘Frog House’. So Charlie wrote a note to the postman to put his mail in the ‘Frog House’ as a frog was living in his letterbox).

More literary frogs  http://comics.com/spot_the_frog/

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