Frogs are one of the most popular tail-less amphibians that are common in our environment. However, because of their size, they are easily hunted by other predator species.
Hence, as a survival mechanism and a way of adaptation, they tend to scream, producing high-pitched sounds that are rather quite disturbing. But why do frogs scream, really?
Screaming is natural for frogs; however, they don’t always scream. When frogs scream, it can be out of excitement, when faced with danger, when a mate calls, or to ward off intruders in the colony.
Every frog species’ call sound is also quite unique, so it is possible to know the frog calls.
The following paragraphs cover the detailed reasons why frogs scream.
Can Frogs Scream?
As strange as it might sound to many, frogs indeed do scream. A frog’s scream sounds more like a sudden cry or scream of a startled infant.
This sound is possible because frogs possess vocal cords that produce high-pitched sounds.
Besides frogs, the screaming phenomenon is also common among a few other amphibians and birds. Their screams can last for several seconds, depending on how startled or frightened the frog is.
The scream is one of the tricky mechanisms by frogs to ensure survival. They mostly scream when under attack from predators to lure out an even larger dominant predator.
For them, they are willing to take a 50-50 percent chance at survival. For instance, if a frog is under attack from a snake and it screams, it can draw out an eagle. The eagle is most likely to go after the snake saving the frog in return.
Top 5 Reasons Why Frogs Scream
It’s not common to always see or hear a frog screaming, but when they do, it’s certainly for a reason.
While the major reason frogs scream is to scare predators, there are several other reasons why they might be emitting such high-pitched sounds. A few reasons are:
1. To Call a Mate
Most people tend to generalize all frog screams as mating calls; however, this isn’t always true.
A frog’s mating season is mostly during early spring. However, this can slightly vary depending on the frog’s specie or the region in general.
During these times, frogs call for a mate by screaming. It can go on for several weeks, sometimes even months. It’s even louder early in the morning and early hours in the evening.
What’s more, a frog can easily call out the right mate that fits its species. This is because every frog species has a distinct mating call.
You should also note that only male frogs possess the vocal sac for mate calling.
2. To Scare Predators
Probably one of the major reasons why frogs scream is because of predators. Most times, the scream is to ward off predators.
Sometimes, a frog screams to alert the colony that a predator is close by, so they all take cover. Also, if the frogs are lucky, a secondary predator can intervene to attack the primary predator.
However, not all frogs scream when they see a predator. Some others prefer playing dead until the predator passes by.
Learn more about the frog’s intelligence on our blog.
3. Territorial Dominance
Another reason why frogs scream is to protect their territory from other species. This scream is not just to scare predators but to also keep other frog species away.
Most times, the further an intruder or threat gets into the territory, the more frogs will exhibit several body behaviors.
Certain frog species tend to swell, looking bigger than usual. The size is meant to intimidate the intruder. Also, a few frogs can wiggle, making jest of the intruder.
4. To Make Rain Calls
A frog can scream for excitement before, during, or after it has rained. For the creatures, this is their favorite time because of their body temperature configuration.
Furthermore, their food is readily available during these times and they can easily get bugs, worms, etc.
There is also no need to worry about predators during this period since most must have gone looking for shelter.
5. To Send a Distress Call
This is common after an attack by a predator. A frog will scream as a defensive mechanism when caught between the paws or jaws of a predator.
Most predators never get used to the scream. With that said, the sudden scream of the frog can startle the animal to run away.
Several frogs tend to excrete urine in the predator’s mouth while shouting to also aid in the escape.
Why Do Frogs Scream When Touched?
If you have a pet frog, you might likely feel the need to touch it once in a while.
Touching a frog, however, isn’t a really good idea as it exposes you to several salmonella attacks and other infections. Furthermore, it also poses a risk to the frog.
To show that a frog is not down with the idea of body contact, it tends to scream, sometimes out of pain.
Therefore, before getting a frog, it’s crucial to take precautionary measures.
The thing is, a frog’s body is absorbing. With that said, it can easily take in any fluid it comes in contact with. This includes oils, lotions, salt, etc.
While these things are quite helpful to humans, they can pose a serious threat to frogs. The frog can die in a matter of minutes upon contact.
Some other times, a frog can make a release call thinking that a mate is on its back. It’s common for frogs that are not willing to mate.
Some Species of Frogs that Scream
There are quite a large number of frog species in the world. Over time scientists are even losing count of how many species there are.
Due to their vocal cords, they all produce various sounds for communication. However, certain species produce very sharp and piercing screams.
A few frog species that scream include:
Eastern Gray Tree Frog
The cry of an Eastern gray tree frog is a rather soft one. These 3-inch frogs also can change skin color which protects the frogs from predators.
They are also really good climbers compared to several other frog species.
Green and Black Poison Dart Frog
These species of frogs are very toxic. The toxin of these frogs can cause immediate paralysis.
If the person is not treated immediately, it can lead to death within a short period. When these frogs scream, it sounds more like a far-away cry.
The scream is quite thin than usual. You can find these frogs in the rainforests in South and Central America.
The scream of the coqui frog sounds more like a ‘coqui’ sound, hence their names. These frogs are quite small, and they have bright red eyes.
What makes them special from the other frogs is that their youngs skip the tadpole stage after they hatch. They are popular in places like Puerto Rico.
These small frog species are most active at the beginning of spring. Their screaming sounds are high-pitched. Some even say it’s too high for their body sizes.
They are known for the “X” mark behind their backs. You are likely to spot one in Canada and the United States.
Frogs are one of the most vulnerable amphibians in the animal kingdom. This is due to their size and nature compared to several other animals.
Because of this, it makes them prey to several predators. Therefore, regardless of how disturbing frog screams sound, you can say this ability gives them an edge to help in survival.