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How To Catch A Poison Frog

How To Catch A Poison Frog

It takes good listening skills, a clear water bottle, and maybe some gloves.

How To Catch A Poison Frog

Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - 14:45

Sofie Bates, Contributor

(Inside Science) – To catch a poison frog, all you need are good listening skills, a clear water bottle, and maybe some gloves.

“I've always been a frog enthusiast. People ask me why, and I don't really have a good answer, except that since I was really young, that's what I did. I'd go outside. I'd catch frogs. I'd name them," said Rebecca Tarvin, researcher at the University of Texas at Austin.

"I used to put them in kiddie pools and swim with them, try to figure out how they swam. Since then, it's kind of grown into this intense curiosity that I've turned to science to really have an opportunity to explore," said Tarvin.

"So most people, when they ask me how do you catch a poison frog, they think I'm wearing some kind of mask or gloves. But the reality is that we're much bigger than poison frogs and the amount of toxins that they have is pretty small. So there's only a couple of poison frogs that I would wear gloves or be really cautious about," said Tarvin.

"It can be sometimes challenging to find frogs. And my general approach has been generally I rent a car and I turn down the windows, turn off the music, tell everyone in the car to be quiet, and just drive really slowly. What you hear is choruses of these frogs calling," said Tarvin.

"The males call to attract female mates. And the females go around, they choose the sexiest call. So males are sitting around calling. And the surprising thing is often you end up catching a female, not the male that was calling. And that's because the female is within usually about a foot of the male, kind of checking him out," said Tarvin.

"The males tend to call from under leaves, so they're hidden. They don't want to be exposed. You can coax them into small water bottles that are clear. Because they’re, you know, they're not that smart," said Tarvin.

"But generally, I don't work with the most toxic poison frogs. These are called the golden poison frog. And the poster child is Phyllobates terribilis. It's known for the quantity of toxins that is has. And that one I would be very hesitant to pick up," concluded Tarvin.

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Sofie Bates is a science journalist and videographer based in Washington D.C. She holds a bachelor’s degree in genetics from the UC Davis and a master’s in science communication from UC Santa Cruz. When she’s not reporting neat science research, she likes to try new recipes, read science fiction novels, and hike with her camera in hand. Follow her on Twitter @sciencesofie