Feel like Beaufort County’s frog population has exploded in recent weeks? You may not be wrong.
According to Will Dillman, S.C. Department of Natural Resources Herpetologist, heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Irma and this summer’s record-breaking rainfall could have served as “stimulating events” for frogs in the area.
“The significant number of species of frogs tend to breed in response to rain events, or in areas that are inundated with water,” Dillman said. “Rain motivates them to move to certain areas, and when breeding habitats are full of water, they can reproduce in pretty incredible numbers.”
The Beaufort County area is home to more than 20 species of frogs — the highest population across the state — and some can lay thousands of eggs at a time, according to Dillman.
“Based on the temperature outside, it can take a number of weeks or months for the eggs to hatch, become tadpoles and eventually leave the ponds. That’s probably what people are seeing now,” he said. “They usually exit ponds at the same time after metamorphosis, so you see large pulses of small (frogs) all at once.”
Most species of frogs rely on having large numbers of offspring, because few survive and make it to adulthood, when they can reproduce. Some threats froglets face include road mortality, starvation and habitat destruction, according to Dillman.
Still, seeing a lot of baby frogs should be seen as a positive sign for Beaufort County.
“Frogs are generally a good indicator of a healthy ecosystem,” Dillman said. “They’re very tied to water quality, so having frogs around is generally a good thing.”
So, welcome to Beaufort County, froglets. Happy to have you hopping around our neighborhoods.