On Thursday, July 28 some felt the end may be near as young frogs in biblical proportions began crossing Hwy. 68-80 four miles outside of Russellville towards Elkton. The hundreds of thousands of young amphibians were not making the trip very well as traffic prevented most from getting to the other side.
Rain has been cited as the cause for the migration. According to the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife, parts of Kentucky have experienced heavy rains in the past month and rains cause frogs to move for breeding purposes.
Mark Marraccini, spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, agreed that rain is the factor.
“Rain causes frogs to move,” said Marraccini. “It’s not a phenomenon we are aware of. Breeding when it’s exceptionally wet will tend to move the frogs, but we have never heard of the recent numbers reported before. We have herpetologists that study this all the time and they have been made aware of it. They don’t ignore this type of thing.” Marraccini added that frogs move form pond to pond and stream to stream. A herpetologist is someone who specializes in the study of reptiles and amphibians.
Some have said these may be the Spadefoot toad. There are seven species in this family. Spadefoot toads get their name from the hard, sharp, bony “spade” on their hind feet that they use to dig burrows. Spadefoots have round, stocky bodies; short, rounded snouts; large, bulging eyes; and smooth skin.
Marraccini said a toad is a frog technically.
Because there were so many frogs-toads within a two mile area, a smell could be noticed similar to that of a pond permeating in the area.
Brian Clark of the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife said this is a common occurrence in areas with rare, threatened or endangered species of amphibians, special “bridges” or where underpasses have been built.
According to Phil Bishop, Associate Professor and Chief Scientist of the Amphibian Survival Alliance, the frogs are not so much attracted to the pavement, but the rains signaling the fact that its time to breed. So when this happens the frogs migrate from where they live their everyday lives to a suitable breeding site, which hopefully still exists.
“An explanation depends upon the size of the frogs. If they are metamorps or juveniles then its quite likely this is a mass migration away from the breeding site of newly developed froglets to find a good place to live and the only way they can avoid drying out on the hostile pavements is to travel when it rains,” said Bishop.
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.