Monday, May 23, 2011

Gray Frog Hiding Under the Propane Tank Dome

Gray Tree Frog   Hyla versicolor

I rarely check my propane tank.

I suppose I should keep an eye on the gauge, but I am a "keep fill" customer of Schaul's Gas and I've gotten accustomed to their automatic deliveries.  One less thing to think about - until the bill comes.

But I am in the process of moving west - to the Red River Valley of the North and today's the day I decided to check out what I have to do to shut off the utilities.  The friendly woman at Schaul's gave me a formula for determining the value of the gas in my tank:  % of a full tank x 5 x price of gas at my last delivery.

I went out to look at the gauge under the little mint-colored dome.  That's when I noticed a rusty handful of steel wool.  Maybe the delivery guy put it there to keep creatures from hiding under the dome?

The Surprise under the Dome

The steel wool didn't do the job.  Maybe it was the rust, or the recent wind, or maybe it's all about the frog - the pudgy, little, well-camouflaged, gray frog hunkered down behind the fill-gauge.   What a nice surprise!

I could not resist the temptation to pick it up.  It rewarded me by urinating on my hand - a defense mechanism.  I couldn't believe how much urine that little frog released.

Gray Tree Frog Urinating on my Hand

I also was amazed by the "feel" of its feet, clinging to my hand.  I snapped a few photos, checked the gauge and headed back into the house to find its name:  Gray Tree Frog.

These frogs have a special mucus they secrete from their toes that helps them cling to tree bark and smooth surfaces - like the propane tank.   They are larger and have more toad-like (as in bumpy) skin than their "look-alike" cousins - the Cope's Gray Tree Frog and they have a very different song.  Both have a bright yellow patches on the insides of their hind legs.  And both can change color (like a chameleon - but the frogs need a little more time to make it happen) from green to gray.

What was she doing there?  Hunting for insects.  And by the size of her - looks like she's been doing well.  

Gray Tree Frog Camouflaged on my Propane Tank