Friday, January 22, 2010

giant frogs take over Harnas

Okay, perhaps the title is a bit dramatic, but it's not far from the truth. We had a lot of rain two nights ago, and yesterday morning while I was eating breakfast, Frikkie brought in a Giant African Bullfrog--the size of a dinner plate. (It's the 2nd biggest frog--apparently there's a bigger one in the Congo.) It has a green back and an orange and yellow belly. A bit slimy.

Marieta asked me to take some pictures of the frogs, which had taken over the area beyond the horse corral. I walked out there and waded in to a place that two days ago was a dirt field. Suddenly it was a small lake. I looked for movement and saw splashing on the far side. I waded across the water that came up to my mid-calves in places.

And there they were--dozens of these huge beasts--slpashing, swimming, mating--it was astounding. Where did they all come from?

I did some research and found out that these frogs live underground most of their lives in a cocoon of water. Then during the rainy season, they make their way out for a day or two, mate, and then dig themselves in again to lay eggs.

Other than their massive size to intimidate, they also have sharp teeth--they're carnivorous and eat anything that will fit in their mouths--including the human hand. They're aggressive and can swell up to twice their size to scare off predators. And they live 20-30 years! They can weigh up to 4 1/2 pounds (!) and be 2 feet wide (!!)

I also found out that the Namibians wait for them to come out so they can eat them. BUT--and this is where is gets even more interesting--they can be poisonous and cause kidney disease if they're eaten before they mate. The rule is to wait to eat until "after the third rain."

So I took pictures, came back to my room and did some research on them, and later in the afternoon went out to get some film. They were gone! Just like that they have disappeared for another year underground.

The one picture shows a closeup. Take it from me: they're massive.

What else can I say? Giant flesh-eating frogs that appear and disappear in a day!