Even weirder

Recent downpours have kept the amphibians happy, which means I encounter at least one a day. Sometimes the encounters are closer than I’d like.

I have to draw you a picture here, so you understand what happened. Maybe. It’s still hot outside, so my clothing is loose shorts. In order to get decent portraits of this Southern Cricket Frog (Acris gryllus gryllus), I had to be in kneepads, on my hands and knees down close to the ground to not simply get photos of its top side. While in this position praying to the gods of macro photography, the frog decided I was dangerous enough and broke for cover, hopping between my legs where deepest shadow lie. And right up my shorts.

There was no one around to witness this, thankfully, but also no one around to help. The frog was 1.5 cm long, a little over a half-inch, which means the Little Rascals style of comedic contortions that you’ve already pictured wasn’t going to take place, I’m sorry to say. What it did mean was that I couldn’t stand up for fear of crushing it as it sped deeper into my shorts looking for safety, and I had to remain in the Dropped Soap Position as I frantically shook my shorts in the hopes I could flush it back out. Its tiny size (the frog, smartass) and my awkward position also meant that I really didn’t have a clue whether it was still around or not, and spent some time ensuring myself that it had indeed realized its folly and left in search of a safer swamp.

I was also wary of repeating a performance of a few years ago, something I was reminded of by finding this photo just last night. The Southeastern Five-lined Skink (Eumeces inexpectatus) seen here had cornered itself above my head in a window. After getting this pic, I wanted to see if I could achieve one with a bit more natural setting like ground litter or a tree trunk, and reached up to try and catch it. The skink bolted, ran down my arm, across my shoulder, and disappeared. I turned around hastily but saw and heard nothing. This didn’t mean a lot to me, since there was a bush directly behind me that would provide good cover, but I thought I should at least have heard a rustling. I did several twists and gropes to be sure that it wasn’t simply hanging on my shirt back, then shrugged and forgot about it.

Until I arrived home a few hours later, took out my wallet, and brought out a dead skink. The little bugger had sought refuge in my back pocket, which might have seemed fine until I got back in the vehicle and sat down. I felt really bad about it, and chided myself for not checking my pockets, but seriously, would you have? And when the frog hopped into my shorts today, I immediately pictured the return of my Ass of Death. Things like that can scar a man for a long time.

You’ll be happy to know I spotted the frog a little later on, safe and sound on the ground. It sped for cover very quickly – it had learned.

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