Author Topic: European female frogs play dead to avoid unwanted sexual advances  (Read 861 times)

Joe Carillo

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Preposterous but scientific finding: European female
frogs play dead to avoid unwanted sexual advances


If this phenomenon in the natural world weren’t scientifically verified, it would be too preposterous to even imagine, much less to believe its truthfulness.

In an article by Veronica M. Garrido in the October 14, 2013 issue of the Spanish-language daily newspaper El Pais, the Royal Society Open Science Journal published recent research that European female frogs play dead as one of their strategies for avoiding males they don’t want to mate with.

The research shows that during the two-week mating season in spring, many individual male frogs congregate and fight one another over a particular female frog. According to Iñigo Martínez-Solano of the Biodiversity Department at Spain’s National Museum of Natural Sciences, “Females end up losing [in this scenario], as they often die.” They are drowned when the group of as many as eight frogs get on top of them during such pile-ons that are known as “mating balls.”

                            IMAGE CREDIT: PICTURE ALLIANCE (DPA/PICTURE ALLIANCE VIA GETTY I)
Two European frogs move through the snow to their spawning ground.
Generally the females carry the males on their backs.

The female frogs have three most common mate-avoidance strategies. The first is rotation, in the course of which the female frog attempts to turn on her own axis to escape the male’s grasp. The second is protesting with a “deep, low-frequency” growl or a higher frequency sound described as a “chirp.” And the third, final, and “most surprising” behavior is tonic immobility or playing dead.

The female frog does this by rigidly extending its arms and legs away from its body to appear dead for several minutes. The male frog typically drags the female frog that remains in a dead feint. This is until the male frog finally releases her motionless body and he turns around. Then the female frog swims away.   

Read Veronica M. Garrido’s “European female frogs play dead to avoid unwanted sexual advances” in El Pais now!
« Last Edit: October 25, 2023, 11:42:42 PM by Joe Carillo »