Frogs might be Smarter than we think

I live in the Niagara Region of Ontario Canada. There are many different types of frogs around.

A few years back, frogs suffered some serious epidemic and a large number died. They seem to be coming back. I have several frogs and toads living around my garden. The toads in particular hang out where the slugs hide.

Lighthouse frong

I photographed this little climbing frog at the Abino Point Lighthouse in Crystal Beach, Ontario. A grey tree frog I think. He (she?) was quite a ways up a wall. His toes are quite bulbous.

leopard frog

This little frog lives in my back yard. I dug a draining trench and made a couple of spots deeper so there would be a couple of puddles. I think that is probably a leopard frog. He's very handsome.

The little swamp has attracted various little frogs and toads.

I was not too surprised one morning to find a green frog swimming on the side of the pool. I went to it and picked it out of the water and put it out in the "swamp". There is a nice deep puddle about 50 feet away. I was worried that he would not be able to get out of the pool.

frog on the ladder

I was a bit surprised the next day to find the frog sitting on the pool ladder. This time he jumped in the pool and I had to be quite sneaky to catch him later that afternoon when he had come out to sun himself.

He had figured out how to jump on the step and then go on to the edge and get out of the pool. Few of the creatures I fish out of the pool have figured this out. I keep a big piece of wood in the pool to give them something to crawl up on.

caught frog

frog in pond

I eventually managed to catch him by crawling to the edge and using a bucket, suck him in the deep bucket and grab him from the water. The ledge of the pool had hidden me.

I put him in the far puddle, a good 100 feet away from the opening to the pool

At this point I understand that froggie WANTS to be in the pool area. It's warm safe and there are lots of insects and grubs that seem to end up in the pool.

I secured the pool. I closed the doors, and plugged-in a small opening on the side of the enclosure. The pool is covered by a plastic greenhouse structure which has no holes except for 2 small openings at the base. Quite easy, I thought, to close up.

Fast forward a few days and NO FROG. Good news. I'm not particularly worried about a frog in the pool but the chlorine is quite toxic to them. I would hate to kill the little guy.

frog poopfrog sleeping

After a few frog free days, I noticed a suspicious dropping on the side of the pool and sure enough, it was frog poop. Later that day, I crept up to the pool and was able to photograph froggie very relaxed and dozing with his head down, on the step. Photo is taken with a zoom. I feel like a paparazzi.

frog in pool

When he eventually saw me he jumped in the water and went to the very bottom. I figured out that he had been hiding in the filter intake. There is a sort of little cavern and a cross bar so he was quite safe even if the filter was running. A bit tricky to get in though.

frog on hose

Here Froggie is sitting on a hose that I used to add some water to the pool. At this point he's been living in the pool enclosure for several weeks and is very comfortable, thank you very much. He is very hard to catch.

From the regular droppings I clean up, he is eating well, too. There are a lot of ants so maybe that's the bulk of his food? Maybe he goes out.

I've reduced the amount of chlorine as much as I dared and algae is already starting to grow. The frog does not spend much time in the water but usually is found lounging around the edge ready to pounce back in.

When I vacuum the pool, he just stays out of the way. If we swim, he goes to the bottom and waits.


I eventually managed to lay hands on his slippery little body. I used a board to close up the filter opening, then I opened the filter trap door, caught him in full leap with my left hand no less.


I put him in a jar and this time took him to a small stream a kilometre away. I didn't let him look out the window either! In my defense, the spot I found for him was pretty much frog paradise. Some deep water, snails, bugs, reeds, nice mud to hide in. Trees nearby. No Chlorine.

I half expected him to show up in the pool within a few days but I think the new home was to his liking.

Was froggie being smart?

This episode surprised me. I did not expect so much trouble from a frog.

First he found the pool and obviously liked it. It was not a dry period and my swamp was full of water and bugs, he did not need to move.

At first he was easy to catch, but learned quickly how to evade me.

He also figured out very quickly how to get out of the pool when he wanted to. There is only one ladder and it does not look like anything he's seen before. He had to figure that out for himself.

The first couple of times he came in, the pool was wide open so he could walk right in but later he had to figure out alternative routes.

I transported him and released him quite far from the pool and he had to find his way back.

He also figured out to hide in the filter opening.

Is all this a sign of great intelligence? Maybe not, but it showed that froggie leaned, and has problem solving abilities to a greater extent than I gave him credit for.

Video of a frog protecting it's tadpoles

[Email Christine]