Nancyeclark's Blog


I Loathe a Rainy Night

With deepest apologies to Eddie Rabbitt.

“Well, I love a rainy night
I love to hear the thunder
Watch the lightning
When it lights up the sky
You know it makes me feel good
Well, I love a rainy night
It’s such a beautiful sight
I love to feel the rain
On my face
Taste the rain on my lips
In the moonlight shadow
Showers washed
All my cares away”

I used to feel the way Eddie’s song goes. I do love thunder and lightning and rain pounding on the roof. I love going to watch a storm march across the lake and the lightning all around me. My fantasy vacation is heading to Tornado Alley to watch storms, wind, rain, clouds and lightning…with or without tornados.

But now I loathe a rainy night. All because of tailless, hopping Anura. Frogs. Peepers. Leopards. I don’t know what kind exactly…but mostly dead.

I loathe a rainy night and driving in the rain because rain…or mist or just the promise of rain…brings out the frogs. By the hundreds. Even thousands. Sitting, gulping, hopping out on the road in the rain…getting shmushed by the hundreds and thousands too.

Driving parts of the roads and highways in this area is like driving through a minefield…full of small, squishy, living, hopping mines. I slow down and swerve a lot…but in most cases there is traffic or too many of them to avoid.

So, I find myself driving to avoid as many as possible with my body tense, teeth clenched and saying over and over and over again “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry” and mentally apologizing to god and the frogs for killing or maiming the ones I cannot avoid. Best case scenario is my husband driving while I close my eyes and apologize until we get home. Sort of the same way I drive over the bridge to the States at Ivy Lea…eyes closed and praying we don’t fall off or get hit by a gust of wind!

Poor frogs. So happy they are to feel the rain. Hopping out onto the dark, wet pavement. Sitting, gulping, blissfully unaware of approaching mayhem…little faces raised to the rain…saying to themselves…”Wow! This feels so goo………..SPLAT!!

How unfair!

I have always wondered why they do this. Why rush out from their homes in the marshes and wetlands to sit in the wet & dark…communing with each other? Praising the gods of rain? Looking for moths and worms? Mating?

Here are 3 of the internets answers…and it seems I wasn’t far off with my theories…

1. -“Frog are cold blooded, or ectothermic animals, which means that they do not produce internal body heat. They go to the warm pavement during rain to maintain their temperatures.”

2. “For sex = to find a mate”

3. =During rainy nights drivers may have noticed dozens or even hundreds of frogs crossing roads in the area despite the danger of being hit.
Tarr said frogs travel out onto the pavement at this time because moist nights make for good amphibian travel weather."They breathe through their skin so they are susceptible to drying out when the sun is out. When it’s rainy they can go wherever they want and not worry about it. They tend to be the most active at night," Tarr said.
Mike Marchand, a wildlife biologist with New Hampshire Fish and Game, said frogs can be seen on the roads throughout the year during storms.
"When they move, it’s typically in the rain," said Marchand, adding the first big spring rainfall tends to bring them out of hibernation.
Experts say many frogs travel across pavement from their winter hibernating spots to get to wetlands where they can breed.
Tarr said the road also provides warmth as it holds the heat from the day better than the ground. Frogs also find things like worms and insects on the pavement to feast on, he added.
UNH Cooperative Extension officials are concerned about roads that run through wetlands because frogs and other amphibians are often run over more often during their travels.
Tarr said frogs and toads are remarkably adapted to their environment with features like camouflage and toxic chemicals that can be excreted to make them the last thing on the menu for many animals.
However, he said they certainly aren’t aware of the danger of vehicles.
"Most of the time the first time they are being educated about a car they are being squashed," Tarr said.
Marchand said the road is certainly a "risky" place for frogs to be considering that many motorists don’t even see them.
"There is certainly a high mortality rate on nights when it’s raining. When I drive I’m cringing and slowing down," Marchand said.”

The most telling part of what I found was this…"Most of the time, the first time they are being educated about a car, they are being squashed”.

So do we need to educate the frogs? Do we need frog tunnels? Signs warning drivers about frogs…like the signs for deer, turtles and other species?

Because it seems to me with all the talk about frogs being an indicator species…with their numbers dropping dramatically due to toxins and pollution, habitat destruction and climate change…we also need to take a look at the carnage on the roads.

So, when next you drive on a rainy night near wetlands…be aware of the little things on the road…they might look like detritus or leaves lying there…but if you really look…they are happy little creatures about to be annihilated…

and if you see a car ahead of you acting strangely…it’s probably me…because I love frogs and loathe rainy nights!