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Why Do Frogs Scream?

We’re sure, at some point, you’ve heard frogs screaming. The sound is high-pitched and whiny, kind of like a baby crying. Some may not know where this sound comes from or why the sound is made. Today, we’re going to answer the question: Why do frogs scream? Here’s what I found out:

Frogs scream when they are scared or when they feel threatened. Their screams can sometimes resemble a baby’s cry and can last up to 5 seconds. When encountering predators like dogs, cats, or other animals that prey on frogs, they will become alarmed and scream to warn other frogs in the area.

Despite how crazy this might sound, it’s true! But it’s a lot more complicated than just a yes or no answer. Let’s take a closer look at the how and why behind frogs screaming. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this crazy occurrence.

Why Do Frog Screams Sound Like Screaming Children?

little boy screaming with a frog on his head

If you’ve ever heard a frog scream, you may have noticed that it sounds eerily similar to the cry of a human child. That’s because their cries are high-pitched and whiny, much like the scream of a child.

They emit this sound again to protect themselves from predators or to attract mates in some cases. Another reason they may scream is to attract a “challenger” when being pursued by a predator. For example, if a cat is hunting down a frog, it may scream to attract larger predators like birds of prey or aquatic predators that may save it from the cat.

However, no matter the reason, their screams sound undeniably close to that of a screaming child. We may never know precisely why their cries sound so similar, only that they are comparable in pitch and tone.

Why Do Frogs Scream When Touched?

little girl touching a frog

So, we’ve established that frogs scream when they feel threatened. Well, if you try to touch, hold, or pick up a wild frog you find outside, chances are it will feel threatened by you and let out a scream. Because humans are so much larger than frogs, they may see us as predators and become frightened. They are much more likely to scream when they feel scared or threatened by something.

Additionally, because amphibians, like frogs, absorb things through their skin at a rapid pace, your touch could potentially be harmful or fatal to them. For example, if you’re wearing lotion, hand sanitizer, or bug repellant on your hands, a frog could potentially absorb that into their bodies through their skin. They may have evolutionarily begun to associate human touch with becoming sick from toxins like these, so that’s another reason they may scream when touched.

Why Do Frogs Scream at Night?

green frog clinging on a branch during the night

Continuing in the same vein as why frogs scream in other situations, frogs may scream at night because they feel threatened. Many predators known to prey on frogs do their hunting nocturnally, so the chances of frogs encountering predators and feeling threatened increases at night.

These predators include nocturnal birds of prey like owls or other predators like cats, raccoons, or snakes. Predators like these will often take advantage of the darkness and do most of their hunting at night, which means chances are higher of hearing frog screams at night than during the day.

Frog screams could also happen during the night as a sign of mating, as frogs are known to have no set time of day when they engage in mating. These are some of the possibilities we’ve found of why frogs scream at night.

Why Do Frogs Scream After Rain?

a frog sitting on a leaf after raining

There could be a couple of possibilities for why frogs scream after it rains. The obvious reason, as we pointed out earlier, is that they:

  • Feel threatened by predators. Rain can often force certain animals out of their burrows or nests, like birds, snakes, or other predators that prey on frogs. When this happens, they may encounter frogs, and this would cause screaming.  Their scream is particularly loud and potentially startling, alerting nearby groups of frogs of the danger and startle predators. Even though it’s not been decided for sure what the purpose of this evolutionary trait is, it has persisted, leading scientists to believe that the scream probably works as a defensive mechanism enough to get passed on to later generations of frogs.
  • Male frogs start screaming to attract mates. This sound would have to be a different kind of screaming than the kind they let out when threatened, but it would probably sound much the same to human ears. This happens after it rains because rain creates optimal conditions for females to lay eggs in newly formed freshwater pools. Frogs also like moist, humid weather, which aids in their urge to find a mate.

Where Do You Find Screaming Frogs?

a frog sitting on branch on the water

Screaming frogs can come from a great many places. They are not limited to one particular climate or species. It is not known if every species of frog screams, but most of them do. Thus, you’ll find them in many different parts of the world.

There are nearly five thousand species of frogs living on all major continents except for Antarctica. As amphibians, frogs can live both in the water and on land, making them one of the more versatile animals commonly found in much of the world. This is especially true for tropical climates, where the highest concentration of frogs can be found.

Frogs have a wide range of sounds that they make, including screaming. You can expect to hear the screams of frogs in and around their typical home environments, which include swamps, ponds, wooded areas, and marshes. If there’s a natural source of water nearby, you can expect to hear them. Besides this alarming sound, you may hear them click, rasp, trill, honk, croak, or peep.

Frogs make a lot of strange sounds! In spring, for example, you’ll hear frogs making high-pitched peeps to attract mates. This will sound like little chirps, sort of like birdsong, but still definitely distinguishable as coming from a frog.

Screaming Frog Video

Final Thoughts

green frog on a leaf during the night

Frog screams are one weird phenomenon of the natural world, inspiring curiosity in humans and fear in predators. Frogs typically scream when they feel threatened and will scream either to try and scare a predator away, draw in a larger predator to save it from the first or warn other frogs of the danger. In some rare cases, they may also scream to attract mates, though this is less common.

We hope the information we’ve outlined in this article has helped answer all your questions about frog screams and why they do it. For more information on all things animals, check out our other articles.

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