Amphibian invasion? Nope, just mating season

July 26, 2011 

They're small, some slimy and some with warts. And they're hopping everywhere.

A flood of frogs has filled Lake McClure's Horseshoe Bend swimming area, taking advantage of the warm water to lay their eggs.

Toads also need water, but in the heat they end up in strange places, such as dog water dishes and kids' swimming pools, trying to find a place to cool off.

"We had a late, wet spring this year," said Andres Aguilar, assistant professor of biology at UC Merced. "Both frogs and toads need standing water for reproducing."

Since this year there was standing water, not just from winter rain but from June storms, the frogs and toads are appearing at an unusual time.

And there's a whole bunch of them out there.

Cathy Boze, agriculture commissioner for Mariposa County, said she's seen a lot of the amphibians in the county. "I had one person call me to find out how to get them out of her house," she said.

Amphibians -- cold-blooded animals with a backbone -- like frogs and toads can adapt to many habitats. Many of the species undergo a metamorphosis, changing from tiny tadpoles that need water to big toads that are terrestrial.

It's easy to tell the difference between frogs and toads, although toads are technically frogs. The California or Western toad is large with dry, warty skin. Their pupils are horizontal and they range in color from greenish to yellow with a light-colored stripe down the middle of the back.

Frogs usually have smooth, moist skin, long hind legs, webbed feet and bulging eyes.

Although frogs and toads may make good pets if bought at a pet store, picking up one from a lake or near water should be avoided. "They can potentially spread disease," Aguilar said. "It's better to leave them where they're found."

At least they don't weigh 7 pounds, the size of the Goliath frog, found mainly in Cameroon. And they're not poisonous like the poison dart frog of Central and South America.

But frogs and toads in Mariposa and Merced counties should be left alone, poison or not.

Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or

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