Dr Platzhund answers a reader’s question about her concerns of having frogs in her garden after her Jack Russell was hospitalised when it got into contact with one.
I have an indigenous garden and recently my Jack Russell got hold of a frog that caused him to salivate profusely, to such an extent that I had to take him to the vet for hospitalisation and treatment. Besides this outcome, is there anything else I should know about frogs?
Frogs have a highly alkaloid, sticky skin secretory substance, which is its natural protection against most predators. It causes nausea, vomiting and salivation if dogs and cats come in contact with them. If you handle a frog for any reason, wash your hands thoroughly before you put them near your mouth, otherwise you’ll taste the bitter substance that frogs secrete. Sometimes these secretions dry up on your hands and sandpaper is needed to remove it. The presence of frogs in your garden indicates a non-polluted and non-toxic environment.
There are no dangerous or poisonous frogs in South Africa; however, the bullfrog, which has a body size of 22cm, can be aggressive and bite if threatened. Its diet includes mice, small birds, lizards, snakes and other frogs. In fact, many frogs are cannibals, such as vlei frogs, which eat reed frogs. Frogs can lay up to 25 000 eggs at a time, and are excellent at eliminating pest insects in the environment. They live for up to 10-15 years and aren’t suitable as pets, mostly because they only eat moving, live prey. They usually don’t survive for more than a year in captivity. If you have frogs living in your garden, then you’ve created a safe haven for them.