Come and travel Oklahoma with me.

This past weekend I lost a beloved member of my family, my pet Grey Tree Frog. I know it seems crazy to keep a frog as a pet but this little frog was special, at least to me. This is his story.

April and May of 2019 were exceptionally wet months here in central Oklahoma. That May alone was the 3rd wettest on record since 1895 with an average of 10 inches of rain. With all of this rainfall, the low spot in my backyard filled with water and stayed that way for a while. It was at some point that a pair of grey tree frogs got into the water, one laid the eggs and the other fertilized them. I didn’t notice anything swimming in the water until the first few days of June. I hoped at first that they weren’t mosquito larvae, but after another few days I could make out the bodies of tadpoles. I was super excited, I thought maybe I was going to have a herd of toads growing in my back yard. Each night I would go out and talk to them, tell them the troubles of the day. Made me feel better. But it was also summer in Oklahoma and the rain had finally stopped, as the days went on the water in the low spot started to evaporate. As the spot got smaller, I decided to rescue the tadpoles. I tried. I was able to save 41.

So for the next few weeks I had tadpoles living in a habitat I built for them using a plastic tub. I would feed them and talk to them. When it came time for tub cleaning, I would carefully scoop each one out and talk to them. I watched their back legs develop first, then the front legs popped out. On July 1st, they were ready to be frogs, at least some were. Sadly for me, most didn’t develop their front legs or their lungs. By the end of that night I had buried most of the 41 tadpoles but I had 9 frogs. Between their green coloring and the fact they liked to stick to the side of the tub, I realized that I didn’t have toads but grey tree frogs. Surprise.

After all I had been through with them, there was no way I was just going to let them hop away. Now I had to get something better to keep them in, off to the pet store for a terrarium. They had a pool, substrate, sticks to climb on, and even small baby crickets to eat. They were so much fun to watch but they were also fragile, 2 died before the end of July, another 2 in August, another 2 in September. Being an animal lover, this was hard on me. I hated seeing a dead one, I dreaded looking in the terrarium some days.

I was left with 3 small frogs but even that didn’t last. Within a period of 3 weeks, 2 died. That left me with 1, Benjamin. I never really knew if he was a boy or girl, I just liked the name. He was just a happy frog, or at least he seemed happy. He got crickets whenever he was hungry, fresh water every night, and I even got him to trust me enough to pet him. When it was time for terrarium cleaning, he would hop into my hand so I could put him in another container to keep him safe. He was funny, loved sticking to the glass to look out. He was aware we were there; he knew each of us. I could even say “Hi Benjamin” and he would put a hand up like he was waving hi. The most fun was watching him hunt for food. Each time I got crickets, I would dump them in the terrarium and say to him “dinners served”. He would go from sleeping to awake and jumping all around to get the crickets. He was best at hunting when I would catch a wild moth. I guess moths must taste really good to frogs because he absolutely loved them. I would toss it in to him and start to count, before I hit 5 he would be stuffing the wings in his mouth. He even got to travel to my mothers-in-law house when we went on vacation. Spent the entire drive at the top of his terrarium looking out the backseat window. For 3 years he brought us all a lot of happiness. I knew he was getting older and hadn’t been jumping as much but I never thought he would go so quickly. So Benjamin, I hope you know how much you were loved and now missed by your family. I hope you had fun while you were with us and now you are back with your family. Buried in the same backyard you were born in.

Benjamin- July 1, 2019- Aug 12, 2022

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