Go Home, Frog. You’re Drunk.

Written by: Chrissann

 

*click for image credit “It’s go time.”

The first croak of the night comes at 10:15 pm, already well past my bedtime, but I’ve been waiting for it. I leap into action, deserting my cozy spot on the couch and the suspenseful episode of House of Cards I was just engrossed in without hesitation, grabbing my flashlight off the entry table and a fresh Tupperware container out of the kitchen drawer.

David sighs heavily, hits pause, and trudges after me. His fervor is waning; after spending the previous night conducting several moonlight trappings of his own, it’s understandable. But alas, we have a mission to attend to. We can’t give up now. They can’t win. They can never win.

I am the Master Finder, David is the Master Trapper. We’re a team. A United Front Against Frogdom with a zero tolerance policy against cohabitation. Our position is steadfast. I shout my shrill battle cry into the night – You can’t live here, frog! It’s time to go!!

~

We have been trapping frogs now sporadically for a little over two months. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say we’ve relocated at least 15+, though in my mind, it feels like so much more. Some nights we get lucky and don’t hear and therefore, have to trap, any. Most of the time though, we hear at least one per night, trap it, and go to sleep with fingers crossed. On one particularly heinous night, we trapped 5.

Trapping reenactment in daylight for your viewing pleasure

Trapping reenactment in daylight for your viewing pleasure. *Note: it is nowhere near as easy as this looks.

I should take a moment to clarify the specific frogs in question and the problem they present to My Life As We Know It, so you can make an educated decision as to whose side of this war you’d like to be on (easy answer: mine). These are not the melodious Puerto Rican Coquí frogs, endemic to these islands, that, along with the crickets and herons, comprise everyone’s favorite tropical nighttime soundtrack (you know, the one that the tourists think is being piped out of fake rocks à la Disneyland). No, these frogs are the invasive Cuban tree frogs. They kill off native frog species and pretty much anything else they can fit in their pie holes (run, lizards, RUN). But their worst offense, as it relates to me (native species obliteration aside), is their uncanny imitation of a toucan croak.

Yes, I said toucan croak. Here’s what a toucan croak sounds like:

I have three Toco toucans that live in outdoor aviaries behind our bedroom. We adopted them a few years ago out of a crappy situation and they are my precious feathered baby angels and I have a fierce mama bear instinct to protect them. They make two main communicative sounds – a soft purring noise most of the time, and a louder croaking sound they set off as their alarm call when something is amiss (untrustworthy-looking visitor to the house, hawk flying overhead, something scary in the bushes, etc.) They generally never make any noise at all during the night while they’re sleeping, so if they did, something would have to be horribly wrong. This fact allows me to rest easy with them outside at night while we sleep inside – if they were in trouble and needed my protection, I sure as hell would hear about it and wake from sleep to run to their rescue.

Enter: The Frog Problem.

The Cuban tree frogs, which I have never heard or seen before on this island prior to moving into this house, have a shockingly loud mating/territorial cry that sounds almost identical to the toucans’ panicked alarm call. And unlike the constant “coh-kee, coh-kee” ring of the delightful Coquí frogs that imbues the darkness, they only set off their toucan-like croaks in short, manic bursts at random intervals throughout the night (connection: sounding exactly like a toucan in danger aka The Sound I’ve Always Feared). They are partial to the pool area, just outside of our bedroom door, and even with the doors closed and the A/C on, there is no not hearing them. That means we cannot seem to just “get used to them” already – their croaking is too random for my subconscious to rewire my brain over, and the hard-wiring for that specific croaking sound that is so strongly tied to “toucans in trouble” has been 3+ years in the making. Good luck changing that. Especially because it doesn’t happen every night, just every few nights. Becoming accustomed to them is not in the cards; not that I even want to become accustomed to that sound. What if my toucans are actually in trouble one night and I don’t wake up because my brain decides, meh, it’s just a frog…?

~

And so, our relocation efforts began. The only solution we have been able to come up with is heading out to the pool area with flashlights, finding them, trapping them in Tupperware containers, then heading down the hill to release them away from our house. It should be noted that this is no easy feat. They aren’t that large, they’re pretty well camouflaged, and they are fast, slippery little suckers who sometimes dive to the bottom of the pool to evade us (though I will boast that I have gotten pretty badass in my hunting abilities for a vegetarian, no-kill, live and let live “predator”). Not to mention that hiking down the hill multiple times per night along a pitch black road in my underwear, hoping that no one drives by and spots me, isn’t on my list of Things I Want to be Doing at 1AM.

In the beginning, my emotions were conflicted (though I think David would describe them more as decidedly bi-polar). When the frogs were loose in our yard, keeping me awake at night, I possessed a demon-like rage, with a single-minded focus to GET RID OF ALL THE F**KING FROGS. Yet once I had them in my container, depositing them down the hill, I would get all weepy, racked with guilt, wailing things like, I’m a horrible human being! Who am I to say I get to live here and they don’t? Just who do I think I am?!  Their inherent cuteness factor did not help the situation.

"Please, my lady - can't I just stay for the night?"

“Please, my lady – can’t I just stay for the night?”

I’m relieved to report that that phase has passed. After months of this intermittent madness, I’m now secure in my Us vs Them stance – guilt be damned. The frogs must go. Deprive me of sleep, and I go from Normal Happy Woman to Enraged Gremlin in about a day. Two months in, and I’ve endured well over my share of fitful, sheet-thrashing nights.

Which bring us to today, the two of us stuck in our own Caddyshack cycle of crazy, of which there is no final coup d’état that I can see, as I am unwilling to set the pool aflame with a ring of explosives. Though really, it matters not, as I imagine it’d be just as ineffective against these evil geniuses as it was with that damn gopher. I’m left simply hoping that no one stops by late at night and finds me hovering over the edge of the pool, nude with my flashlight, sarcastically taunting an amphibian, “Fine, stay there at the bottom, I’ll wait. I have plenty of air to breathe up here. I’m pretty sure you’re the one who has to give in. YOU CAN’T LIVE HERE FROG!”

Seeing that, and I fear they’d have no choice but to commit me.

Take my word for it - they ALL look this smug.

Take my word for it – they ALL look this smug.

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Chrissann Nickel

About Chrissann Nickel

Chrissann’s home rock in the British Virgin Islands, against all logic, feels bigger to her than it actually is. Though after spending five years on a teensy one acre island, the current 13-mile long rock she’s residing on now IS ginormous, at least by comparison. As with everything in the Caribbean, it’s all about perspective.

Once upon a time she used to care about things like matching her purse to her pumps, but these days, she’s a card-carrying member of the Barefoot Nation. She is utterly enchanted with vinyasa yoga, especially when practiced on somewhat precarious, deliciously Instagram-able surfaces (she's @WomanOnARock) such as paddleboards, boats, cliffs, or even the occasional willing friend’s body. She vehemently believes that toucans are the best animals ever (period.) and there is no convincing her otherwise (though imperious roadside goats come in as a close second).

As the Editor in Chief of this site, she spends a lot of her time working from home all by her lonesome writing, editing, and cultivating content designed to make her fellow islanders laugh. Besides her writerly pursuits, she moonlights as a yoga instructor, and attributes at least a smidge of her insanity to the amount of time she spends talking to drunk people. If you’re somehow still reading this and feel inclined to find out more about this “Chrissann” of which we speak, you can also take a gander at her eponymous personal website, www.chrissannnickel.com

CURRENT ROCK OF RESIDENCE: Virgin Gorda, BVI

ISLAND GIRL SINCE: 2006

ORIGINALLY HAILS FROM: California

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18 thoughts on “Go Home, Frog. You’re Drunk.

  1. You are totally justified in catching and relocating these excruciatingly loud creatures! We have never succeeded in catching one yet. The good news is the noise here only seems to go on for an hour in early evening and only for a few months a year. Several of our guests did comment on the loud noises at night…they expected the kind of soothing rain forest CD sounds you mentioned to fall asleep to. We now provide ear plugs.
    Happy hunting!

  2. Okay, so even though this REALLY sucks for you and David. and I sincerely wish you didn’t have this new domestic dilemma….I am very amused at your misfortune. *Sigh* The things we find ourselves doing…

  3. This whole thing is too darn funny: the picture of Kermit with his bottle, the reenactment of the trapping, the Caddyshack-ness of it all, the image of you blowing up your pool. I’m sorry that your sleeplessness is the cause of my laughter today.

  4. I was thinking we were only people that relocated frogs! We get cane toads and my dogs are way to interested in them so every night I do a sweep. My son at first found this fun now he says it’s another mom and her St. Croix moment. He takes them down the pitch black road alone (10 year olds like dark roads, right?) and he says it’s awful because they cry like human babies. But I rest better thinking I got those frogs meanwhile they are laughing at me.

  5. Chrissann,

    Great article. WE HATE THESE CUBAN FROGS. WE RELOCATE THEM TO HELL!(in other words, Rob kills them. I won’t describe the gory details._ Otherwise, wherever they are when alive , they propagate quickly as they proliferate ( what a good chance to use vocabulary words from high school!), they will eat to extinction so many things we love on this island.

    However, about 8 years ago WE USED TO LOVE THEM! Two of them would come up on deck every night as we ate, sitting on opposite drain pipes. We thought they were adorable, ( Information can change one’s persepctive and emotions!). Nevermind that 3 years before a Jamaican friend of ours with a new baby in her lap, eating outside with us, saw one of the frogs, screamed and ran into the house coveing her baby with her arms as she rushed inside ,claiming that these frogs spit poison into people. We didn’t believe her.
    Flash forward to our continued loving them. When they started to come down to the floor near us, we thought we were taming them and they now felt comfortable being near us! ( closer to poisoning and eating us I say in retrospect!).

    Then we began to read about their hellish natures. ( excuse the anthropomorphizing. They just are what they evolved to be and are good survivors who eat mosquitos who, by the way, I once read have no evolutionary benefit at all to anything.)We also learned they lived and reproduced in our cistern!So we began eradication there, too.

    Now,like bad love soured, we hate them and welcome all stories about getting rid of them! Ficklely yours, mary

    • Thanks for the note, Mary!

      Oh no – I didn’t know you guys had resorted to frog murder down there! Poor Rob, what a job. I still love them, but love them most when NOT found outside our bedroom 😉 Sorry your love story had to come to an end – do you still get to love the Coquis at least?

  6. Chrisann, I can’t stop laughing. Way to turn a crappy situation into a hilarious story. I love your writing style! That croaking would drive me crazy, hopefully you and David could get out of the frog relocating business soon

    • Thanks, lady! I so appreciate the note and kind words, glad you enjoyed it 🙂 You’ll have to come over one night – we’re looking for new recruits in this “business” of which there seems to be no end hehehehe….

  7. Don’t feel at all badly about evicting these invasive baritones. Aside from the annoyance they represent to Morpheus, the slimy mucus they secret is toxic. While only irritating to most humans (do NOT rub your eyes or mouth accidentally), contact or ingestion can be fatal to our canine and feline friends. Glad you’ve drawn a line in the sand.

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