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The night is filling with the last hurrahs of summer.

Male cicadas and crickets celebrate by filling the air with their chatter. Frogs sing a chorus across ponds and streams before they hide as the coming season approaches.

This is my favorite time of year. Why? Fall will be soon on its way. Soon, the main sound of nature will be just the wind and the falling orange and yellow leaves.

Before the leaves turn, venture outside at night with your children and listen for these familiar sounds.

You may hear a frog. Frogs, salamanders, and caecilians belong to a very interesting group called Amphibians. The word "amphibian" means two-lives, one in the water and one on land. They hatch from eggs laid in water and live on land.

Sound crazy? Not really if you thing about humans, we lived in a liquid environment before we were born and then live the rest of our lives on land.  When they hatch from their eggs, amphibians have gills so they can breathe in the water. They also have fins to help them swim, just like fish. Later, their bodies change, growing legs and lungs to help them live on the land.

Like fish and reptiles, amphibians are cold-blooded. They must cool off and warm up by using their surroundings. We are warm-blooded, and have a set internal temperature 98.6 degrees.

There are three types of Amphibians.

  1. Frogs generally have a short body, webbed fingers and toes, bulging eyes, and no tail. Frogs are good jumpers with long powerful legs. Toads are a type of frog.

  2. Salamanders look a bit like lizards. They have skinny bodies, short legs, and long tails. Salamanders can re-grow lost limbs and other body parts. They like wet, moist areas like wetlands.

  3. Caecilians are amphibians that don't have legs or arms. They look a lot like snakes or worms. Some of them can be long and reach lengths of over 4 feet. They have a strong skull and a pointed nose to help them burrow through dirt and mud.

Explore a lake, pond, or stream near you for amphibians, one may not be able to see one, but if you are quiet you may hear one. Besides being really cool, amphibians are super important to our environment. Why? Find the answer with your child in a book or on the internet.

Please join us for Hands-On-Habit on September 21st as we explore our pond looking for amphibians and meet an animal visitor up close. Registration is open now!

Trish Wakefield

Fontenelle Forest Educator

First and foremost, Trish is a wife and a mother of four amazing sons who followed her husband to Omaha for his career.  As a Kansas native, she has always had a passion for life sciences, the natural world and educating children. As a child she actively camped and swam in Kansas State Parks. She studied life sciences at Wichita State University before raising her boys. She also worked as a Special Ed para prior to becoming a YMCA Aquatics Director. As the Aquatic Director, she t ...

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