Rocky the frog

When I took a zoology class last semester as part of the teacher certification process, I acquired an African clawed frog. We bred a pair of frogs that my professor had, and ended up with hundreds of eggs. Many, but of course not all, developed into tadpoles, and I and the other students got to keep some. We all thought it was super cool, and I ended up with my $75 set-up for my free frog! He is now about three inches from snout to the end of his feet, and he provides great entertainment for Boo the cat. He is very “tame” and will eat out of our hands and swim into my palm if I put my hand in the tank. He doesn’t have teeth or a tongue, so it doesn’t hurt when he bites, but it’s pretty startling.

I had smooth, large gravel in the bottom of the tank, because apparently these frogs will eat anything, including small gravel. You can probably sense where this is going, can’t you? The other day, I bought him some new pelleted food, which we fed to him in a clear spot in the bottom of the tank. One day we fed him, but apparently the gravel wasn’t cleared away. The next day, Aaron said, “I think the frog swallowed a rock. His stomach is all funny.” Sure enough, his stomach was enlarged by quite a bit, so I gently felt his abdomen. It had a distinct hard spot, right around the stomach area. He also hadn’t been acting quite right for about thirty-six hours, so I figured that he had indeed swallowed a rock.

I called my vet to see if there was anything I could do, and she referred me to another vet who is a specialist in exotics. At this point I was feeling a bit ridiculous, since it is just a frog, after all, but I wanted to see if there was a chance it would just pass through his system. After giving it another day, things still weren’t right, so I took him in to see the vet. A three inch frog. To the vet. What a softie! I couldn’t bear the thought that he was suffering, and I didn’t want him to die. It’s amazing what an attachment I have developed to this foolish amphibian, even though I still felt ridiculous.

After the vet heard the story of how I got him, and the fact that I’m a biology teacher, she said I could come back and watch them try to remove the rocks. They had to lightly sedate him, because he’s so slippery and wiggly. Once he was calm, the vet put a thin catheter down his throat so she could flush the stomach with saline. The saline wasn’t even necessary – apparently that was enough to stimulate emesis (sounds better than making him throw up!), and he spit out not one, but four rocks!

The drama resulted in a name for the frog, and the knowledge that he is indeed a male. A voracious one at that!

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