STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Kermit the Frog once famously sang about the plight of being green.
But as the new exhibit “Frogs: A Chorus of Colors” shows, green is hardly the only hue among the world’s 4,700 species of frogs. The Tomato Frog is aptly named. Poison Dart Frogs (named for the toxin they secrete, that South American indigenous peoples used to apply to the tips of blowdarts) come in blue, green, yellow or red. And because all toads are actually species of frogs, the exhibit created by Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland in Union County, Pa. also has live Fire-Bellied Toads (named for the coloring on their lower half) and Smooth-Sided Toads.
Get nearly eyeball-to-eyeball with 15 different species of frogs from around the world — plus American Bullfrog tadpoles — in recreated habitats with live plants and miniature waterfalls and rock ledges.
“Frogs,” which explores a wide range of aspects about the adaptable amphibians, is at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University through May 14.
Aspects like what?
Investigate the variety of videos and interactives. One station focuses on the eating habits of different frogs (including a wild clip of an African Bullfrog swallowing a mouse whole). Activate recorded frog croaks, chirps and whistles of up to eight different species. Perform a virtual version of the school science class frog dissection. You can also learn about frogs’ role in human cultures, their importance to ecosystems, and the peril they face in changing environments.
“If species can’t adapt to changes in the environment, they go extinct. The ones that don’t have a broad geographic range are the ones that are endangered,” said Ned Gilmore, the Academy of Natural Sciences’ herpetology collection manager. According to the exhibit, more than 100 species of frogs have gone extinct.
Although habitat destruction is one of the biggest threats to frogs on the East Coast, he said, bullfrogs and green frogs love the retention ponds near shopping centers. According to Gilmore, there are 18 different species of frogs just in the Greater Philadelphia region, nine of them within the city limits.
And don’t forget to say hello to the Poison Dart Frogs in the academy’s permanent “Butterflies!” exhibit and the Green Tree Frog in the “Outside In” exhibit.
To celebrate “Frogs,” the Academy of Natural Sciences will present special crafts, amphibian specimen displays and interactive activities only on Saturdays and Sundays in February. Check www.ansp.org for what’s happening on the day you’re planning to go.
What about that rumor I heard about people licking frogs to get high?
The education panels in “Frogs” tell about how different species of frogs secrete toxins to protect them from predators.
The dried secretions of the Giant Monkey Frog (named for their tree climbing talents) in Central and South America supposedly have hallucinogenic/sense heightening properties and are used by tribes in the Amazon in shamanic rituals.
Is it true you can get warts from a toad?
No. What look like “warts” on a toad are really just thickened parts of their skin or clusters of specialized glands. They are not contagious.
What is the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University?
Founded in 1812, the academy is a natural history museum dedicated to advancing research, education and public engagement in biodiversity and environmental science.
Where is it?
1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia.
When can I go?
Hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, till 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
How much do I need to get in?
After general admission, there’s an additional admission ticket of $5 for “Frogs,” $3 for members. Weekend and weekday admission rates are different. Check out the discounted admission available online at www.ansp.org.
Can I call them?
The number is (215) 299-1000.