9.21.2013 Frog behavior

Really, how does one teach a frog to behave?  Well, not everyone feels animals are able to think.  Maybe these folks will give dogs and cats the benefit of the doubt…maybe a seal trained to do tricks, shock treatment definitely has an effect. but mostly they feel animals just react. IMO, not so.

I have not done a whit of research, but so often those of us out in nature and paying attention will see evidence that animals do behave in certain ways as a result of experience.  Of course, coyotes and wolves have learned to stay away from humans…they might get shot.

Well, here is my little piece of evidence.  This bullfrog has learned to hide while waiting for bees to come and gather pollen from this water lily.  Most often the frogs just sit out on a pad or in the water and hope a fly comes by.  This little froggie has figured out that bees and other insects are drawn to the flower.  So it waits and, although I was unsuccessful at capturing it on sensor, nailed a couple of the bees as they came to the flower….note the one bent petal.Bullfrog-and-Waterlily-072113-900WebWell, that is my unscientific postulation.  Any opinions or factual tidbits to add are welcomed…even disagreement. 🙂


About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Animal Behavior, Nature Photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to 9.21.2013 Frog behavior

  1. A photo that teaches! Well done Steve.


  2. Lyle Krahn says:

    That makes perfect sense to me. Sometimes good research is just watching.


  3. Lottie Nevin says:

    I think frogs are much cleverer than we’ve previously given them credit for. Have you seen that photo that’s being doing the rounds on Facebook; the one of the tiny, green Indonesian frog holding a leaf to shelter himself from the rain? It’s just adorable. This frog picture of yours is beautiful, I love the composition and the beady eyed frog, hiding behind the flower.


    • I think that is true for an abundance of wildlife, Lottie. Our wild turkeys are considered quite smart. Unfortunately, the domesticated kind that ends up on our Thanksgiving dinner plates are rumored to be so dumb as to not know enough to close their mouths when looking up into the falling rain and drowning. Well, that may be a folk tale, who knows, but the fact is wild animals are pretty bright.
      I am rather skeptical of the frog holding the leaf. There is one photographer in particular whose images show up on FB regularly. He is known for wiring and contorting frogs for his purposes. Maybe you have seen them…frog standing on his legs and waving to the camera etc. So I am not sure whether that image is really real or created against little froggy’s will.
      Having rained on your frog’s leaf…maybe I am totally wrong in my opinion…I do agree wholeheartedly on their intelligence. And thanks very much for the kind words for my beady-eyed little image. 🙂

      Here is an example of that guy’s images. Somehow this does not look real to me. http://500px.com/photo/4954537


      • Lottie Nevin says:

        oh NO! 😦 well if that is the case then I’ve really gone off that picture now 😦 just goes to show how gullible I am! I clicked on the link and I’ve not seen that picture before. If it’s true that he does wire them or use strings etc then he’s a cruel, sick man. Grrrr, makes me mad!


      • Nope, not gullible at all, Lottie. Every time one of his images pops up there are loads of people, even experienced photographers, who carry on about how cool it is. Unfortunately for some photographers of nature, the photograph matters more than the subject’s well-being. I’ve known of people who will pull up plants, cut tree branches and kill insects for an image. When you see a photographer post an image consisting of a stack of 75 images giving us a magnified image of a fly’s head the insect most likely did not willingly sit motionless for all those exposures. Personally, I would rather not get the image than interfere with another creature’s well being. It is too bad that some have the idea that all of what we have here was created for our amusement and has little value otherwise.


      • Lottie Nevin says:

        I 100% agree with you, Steve. It really sucks – shame on those that do such things. It’s sickening to think what lengths people will go to – they should all be named and shamed. You are a shining example of how you can achieve stunning nature shots without harming a soul. Go Steve!


  4. I love those bull frogs. This one is saying, “I only have an eye for your camera.” Actually frogs, when hunting, wait motionless for their prey. They use their long tongue to quicky grab their food and in this case whatever insect comes along to sip on the nectar of the lily pad blossom.

    This photo is quite intersting. The partially hidden frog with one eye in view really makes this an excellent photo.


    • Thanks, Yvonne. I have never been able to capture an image of a frog snagging a fly. I have sat and watched them for long periods and this was the only one I have actually seen catch something. It all happens so fast and, although I had been paying close attention, I just wasn’t fast enough to get a good image. But I’ll keep at it. I think there are still enough warm days here for a few more frog ops.


  5. Office Diva says:

    Ahem, I would like to buy an argument! Just kiddin’. (Monty Python fan?) You’ll get no argument from me. (Yes you will). No you won’t. (Hang on a minute, this isn’t an argument; it’s a contradiction!). Oh no it isn’t! (It is). Isn’t! (Is too!)

    When it comes to animals having emotions and the ability to think, (“emotional intelligence) I’m all in. In fact, I would go so far as to say that some of the higher evolved animals like dolphins, horses, whales, and our domesticated pets have extra-sensory abilities that in humans we consider “foo-foo ESP” stuff. Animals always know when Nature is about to tear us a new one with an earthquake or natural disaster. They have a mysterious way of knowing if it’s going to be a cold winter and grow thicker coats, or store up extra food. In many regards, they are more in tune with what goes on “beyond” our five senses in the physical world. I think they feel, as well.

    Or maybe that’s all just hokum and this fabulous specimen that you have captured so exquisitely next to the flower is so intelligent because he/she is a long-lost Prince or Princess? Put on your lip balm, you know the story. Once Upon a Time, our hero, the Green Heron, was lost in the woods when he came upon a frog. Not just any frog……this was a smart, flower kissing frog……who had a terrific appetite for bees…..


    • Monty Python fan, yes I am. I believe I posted a Monty Python bit for you a post or two ago…something about my manliness. 🙂

      I believed in animal intelligence at an early age…read Orwell’s Animal Farm and never stopped believing since that read. I am convinced there is a form of intelligence in all living things (plants definitely included) and the fact that many of us don’t realize that simply means we aren’t intelligent enough ourselves to learn to communicate…not surprising since we have so much trouble communicating amongst ourselves. They certainly do have other senses…or more highly developed senses….than we do. Again, relying on memory,…always a risky thing…there were reports of animals heading for the hills before the huge 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

      Have you considered writing children’s literature. I love the little tale of Green Heron and the flower kissing frog. Your imagination is spectacular. 🙂


  6. The kind of animal I’ve most often seen lying in wait for potential prey is the spider. Even spiders that haven’t spun webs often seem to hang out on flowers, which of course attract all sorts of insects. Still, I can’t say that a spider “thinks” about where to hide; that behavior has probably become inbred over millions of years of development.


    • There is a fair amount of debate about animals “thinking”. As I said, whatever is going on in their little minds is beyond our ken presently. I believe the only way to know for sure is Spock’s mind meld. 🙂


  7. Phil Lanoue says:

    ” You can observe a lot by watching ” Yogi Berra


  8. Greg Russell says:

    Wonderful image! I like it a lot. A great behavior shot.

    As far as animals “thinking,” well of course they do. They figure out that one behavior gets them dinner, and they know to repeat it. They also learn that another behavior might make them dinner, so they avoid that. Behavior evolves very rapidly, much faster than physiology or anatomy.

    However, if you’re going to argue emotional intelligence…that’s a tough one for me to swallow (even though I love when a dog is begging to be petted). Of course we don’t know what an animal “feels”–we can’t ask it, but we do know that their neurological wiring is different from ours in that those centers of the brain that “light up” when we are feeling emotion are largely absent in things like…frogs.

    There’s your science for the day. 🙂


    • Thanks again, Greg. Wellll, when Murphy puts his head on my chest and wags his tail, I do think he is experiencing some emotion but I can’t read his mind…unless he is thinking about food…so it can’t be said for sure. I know that my friend in Maine has developed a relationship with the occasional moose. He doesn’t feed them so unless there is some sort of feeling toward Mark it would not make sense for any moose to approach him.
      As I mentioned in my other reply…and I am sure it is not necessary but…I am not a scientist and don’t have the background to put up a very learned argument…just my feelings on the subject. And I know this is right in your wheelhouse. 🙂
      As I was writing this, Murphy trotted in and put his paws on my legs and gave me a beagle kiss. 🙂


  9. Just Rod says:

    Lovely photograph Steve. Tells the story well.
    Animals do have emotions.
    Even trees have been found to communicate. When a forest fire is burning in some forests, trees as far away as 50 kilometers prepare for the fire.
    Humans as a species are too arrogant to recognize intelligence of different kinds.

    I think this was the half hour argument.


    • Thanks, Rod.
      Absutely. I remember reading “The Secret Life of Plants” and the experiments that showed responses similar to your example. Like plants going into a panic in I guess empathy for the algae dying in a drain from lye being applied.


  10. shoreacres says:

    Honestly, I love the internet. I happened across a video of a frog the other day that I think supports your hypothesis, as well as being quite amusing and a testament to the clear reality that frogs become frustrated, too. I just watched it again, and am laughing again. It’s only a minute long, and you can see it here.


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