24 January 2023

Being overrun by frogs is a good thing ... apparently

| Chris Roe
Start the conversation
spotted marsh frogs

The invasion of little hoppers is a natural phenomenon and experts say we should enjoy it. Photo: Supplied.

Confession time. I’m terrified of frogs.

Snakes and spiders – things that one could rationally be afraid of – are not a problem, but show me a slimy-skinned, goggle-eyed hopper and my legs go to jelly.

Google tells me it’s a condition named ”ranidaphobia” and the current wave of the little buggers flooding regional NSW in the wake of the recent rains has my skin crawling.

My kids think it’s hilarious and on my birthday last week presented me with a rubber frog in a toilet in honour of the ”back-in-my-day” stories I had shared about the dunny-dwelling green frogs that filled me with dread as a boy on the farm.

Frog in toilet

My birthday surprise from a pair of cheeky monkeys. Photo: Chris Roe.

The other night, I almost had to sleep in the car.

Returning home late, I was mildly disturbed to see a scattering of tiny spotted marsh frogs hopping around under the garage light, but it was a moment of sheer panic when I reached out to open the door and narrowly avoided laying my hand on their larger cousin lurking by the handle!

I was paralysed, unable to open the door for fear that the springy creature might launch himself in my direction. For a ranidaphobe, surely there’s nothing worse than a frog in the face.

READ ALSO Wagga Comedy Jam is opening up the mic for a laugh

After weighing up my options and waiting for the creepy thing to move away from the handle, I made a break for it, drawing open the door and leaping to safety before it could attack. Phew!

Needless to say, the multitudes of frogs piling into people’s swimming pools and verandahs in recent weeks and pics of bucketloads being scooped up have been hard to watch.

Fortunately, scientists have assured us that it’s a good thing.

Academics at Charles Sturt University have suggested that we embrace this natural phenomenon.

“This is a great opportunity for residents to understand how many frogs were once in the region,” environmental management lecturer Dr Alexandra Knight said.

“There are reports right back to the 1930s of large masses of frogs marching across the landscape and smothering people’s verandas – this was once a much more common phenomenon.”

If I found myself living in the amphibian epicentre with frogs “smothering” my veranda, my own inclination would be to leave the house and take an extended holiday … or just burn it down.

But Dr Knight’s advice is to relax and enjoy the show.

“These large numbers are temporary and there are ways to manage the situation,” she said, explaining that the booming populations of spotted marsh frogs and eastern and great banjo frogs are the result of consecutive wet years.

“Spotted marsh frogs are explosive breeders, with reports of up to 22 egg masses (each with up to 1500 eggs) in one square metre.

“They are also one of our most resilient frog species in this region.”


Roy Hamilton’s video of his frog-filled pool has gone viral. Photo: Roy Hamilton (Twitter).

As the floodwaters recede and the frogs go on the march, Dr Knight suggests that pool owners clip netting around the pool fence, cover the pool overnight and switch off the pool lights.

Failing that, those who are not afflicted with ranidaphobia could carefully relocate them.

“If you are scooping out frogs by the bucketload, it is best to rehome them to the nearest creek or river channel, farm dam or wetland,” Dr Knight said.

READ ALSO Riverina farmer’s frog-infested pool becomes a viral sensation

But the bottom line is that the frogs are an important part of the circle of life and a sign of a healthy ecology.

“These frogs play an important role in controlling insect numbers, including mosquitoes. They are also a valuable resource for fish and waterbirds,” Dr Knight said.

“Frog numbers are declining around the world with many species becoming extinct, so this natural event is a great opportunity to get to enjoy some of our unique Australian nature.”

OK, message received and I can accept, on an academic level at least, that frogs are good. But they still creep me out and I think they always will.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.