It's raining heavily today and my house is full of frogs.
I'm typing to the accompaniment of numerous 'pings' - as drips fall into saucepans - and I'm hedged in on all sides by books rescued from the flood that's seeping under my front door. The frogs, however, are having a great time. I've counted four species so far.
More easily dealt with are those that are currently hopping around my feet.
The plain grass frog (Ptychadena anchietae)is less than 2 inches long but is the most amazing jumper I've ever seen. They cross the room in one bound, nonchalantly leaping high over my head. The pets, who normally ignore frogs, can't resist giving chase, so these little guys go flying all over the house, ricocheting off the walls and roof before ultimately disappearing out a window. The sharp-nosed grass frog (Ptychadena oxyrhynchus) – which is what I think some of my tadpoles are growing into – is listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest amphibian leap: in 1977 'Santjie', a resident of Kwa-Zulu Natal, hopped 10.3 metres.
Tropical plantanas (Xenopus muelleri)are supposed to live permanently in water. They're certainly built for it, with eyes perched on top of their heads and huge webbed hind feet that leave them virtually unable to hop. Covered in poisonous slime, they squirm across my floor and die within 12 hours if I don't put them outside. I haven't seen them in previous years; I assume the poor rains have left them besieged at the river and they're now out searching for newly filled pans. My house must lie on an ancient, plantana migration route because they're all utterly determined to traverse my lounge room.
Red toad (Schismaderma carens).This large toad is a permanent resident. Although he eagerly gulps mealworms each evening, our relationship has deteriorated considerably since 'Take your toad to work day'. Of all the idiot places he's chosen to snooze the day away (and he's picked some doozies: in the toe of my boot, in the cats' food bowl, inside the teapot), his biggest mistake has been my backpack. Nestled away inside, he inadvertently spent the morning with me in the field and then accompanied me on my weekly shopping trip to town. I only discovered him when retrieving my wallet at the supermarket checkout; much to the cashier's consternation.