Title graphic - The Night Callers

As winter gives way to spring, the sounds of frogs and toads can be heard throughout Pennsylvania. Their voices may peep, trill, croak or grunt. Calls echo from wet meadows, marshes and farm ponds. These secretive amphibians are on the move!

Each year, frogs and toads begin their search for a mate. Instead of hopping around looking for a mate, they try their best to attract a mate by calling. Frogs and toads have true vocal cords and can produce a call, or "song." Here's how it works. First, the critter breathes in air through its nose while its mouth is closed. This air goes down into the lungs. The air is then forced up from the lungs into an area of loose skin on its throat, called a "sac." The sac inflates, like blowing a bubble with gum. The frog or toad then pushes the air out of the sac over the vocal cords to make a call, and the sac deflates. The sac really does not make the sound any louder, though. Some amphibians have one sac, like a toad. Others, like a leopard frog, have two sacs, one on each side of the throat.

In Pennsylvania, usually only the males call. They call to attract a mate, defend territory, or warn of danger. The sound each species makes is different from other species. With a lot of practice, you can identify which kind of frog or toad you're hearing, just by knowing their calls. Spring peepers have been described as saying, "tomatoes, tomatoes." Bullfrog calls sound like, "jug-of-rum, rumm, rumm." The song of a wood frog sounds just like ducks quacking!

As the sun begins to set, take a trip to a local wetland or pond and listen to the sounds of the night callers.

Bullfrog Image - click to hear his call, Jug of rum, rum, rum.
Click on the bullfrog to hear his call. "Jug-of-rum, rumm, rumm."

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