Frog Catching: How-to and Tips

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My family spends as much time as possible outside during all seasons, but spring and summer are our favorites because of swimming, camping, baseball, and frog catching! We go on a short hike on a local trail and the boys have fun getting dirty and seeing how many frogs they can catch. My oldest son is 10 and we have been doing this with him every year since he was 3.  My youngest son has gone frog catching with us since before he could even walk!

Even if the idea of frog catching sounds like something disgusting that you would never do, please continue reading!  I think it’s important for parents to give their children a variety of experiences whether it is something you enjoy doing or not. I help hold the nets and buckets at times, but other than that I would never have to touch a frog if I chose not to.  It is something I enjoy doing with the boys, so I don’t mind catching frogs with my hands and getting dirty.  Frog catching keeps my boys active outside because we always walk on a trail while we do it.  It is one of many things our entire family enjoys doing together and it was fun to do during safer at home when the only place we could go was outside!

I have put together some information that I hope will help you try frog catching with your children. I think it is important to mention that we spend a lot of time in nature and we have never hurt or killed frogs, used them as bait, or kept them in containers for long periods of time.  We have taught the boys safe ways to hold them and have established clear guidelines for keeping them in a container. No frogs have been harmed in the last 7 years of frog hunting!

Equipment-

Nets:  It is not completely necessary to have nets, but frogs can be hard to catch with your hands (especially for younger kids). We use 2 different sizes of nets. My boys each have an extendable fishing net (affiliate link) and also a short-handled net. 

Container:  This can be as simple as a gallon ice cream bucket with slits cut into the cover.  It can be any kind of container with small holes for air. We use a creature carrier (affiliate link) that has a light, but we have also used collapsible sand buckets and ice cream buckets. 

What to wear- 

I suggest dressing in clothes that are appropriate for the weather that can get dirty and possibly wet. I don’t usually make the boys wear swim trunks, but I do have a couple sets of clothes (I call them “creek clothes”) that they can wear if we know we are going frog catching.  

Appropriate footwear is important since you will be getting wet. Since my children walk in the water most of the time I usually make them wear boots so more of their skin is covered.  This prevents them from getting cuts from sticks that are in the water and it also keeps their calves free from leeches, which are never fun to pull off!  If you are only going in shallow water areas old tennis shoes are fine. 

I personally don’t let my boys wear sandals if they will be going into the water even if they have a back because sticks, rocks, etc. can still get under their feet.  We have also been to places where there is shattered glass on the rocks or on the side of the water which we obviously try to avoid, but we never know what is under the water.

Frog Catching Steps-

1. Find a good area of water that is less than 2 feet.  Puddles, ditches on the sides of trails, shallow creeks with little water movement, and rivers have been places where we have found the most success.

2. Look for eyes popping out of the water.  Also, watch for any bubbles or movement in the water. Listen for croaks and follow the noise if you’re having a hard time seeing them.

3. Get your net ready and make sure your container has some water in it.

4. Slowly and quietly walk in the water or on the shore until you are about 2 feet or less away from the frog.

5. Scoop the net towards you or to the side to catch the frog – never scoop away from you.  Note: sometimes it is just easier to catch them with your hands.  If this is the case, scoop up the frog and carefully place your hand over it until you can get it safely in the container.

6. Place the frog in the container or carefully hold it.  I suggest only holding it if you know how to properly do it and only for a few minutes. I make my boys hold them gently around the body. Although this picture looks silly, I promise he is holding it very gently!

7. Once you have shown off your catch and have talked to it, named it, taken pictures with it, etc make sure to gently release it back into the wild. I let my boys keep them in the container for 5-10 minutes before releasing them. Do not throw the frogs- gently dump the bucket on the shore and let them hop or put them back in by hand. Make sure to release the frogs where there is some water. 

Best local places to go frog catching-

Sensiba State Wildlife Area – we usually see several from the boardwalk and they are also all over the shorelines.  You may see bullfrogs bigger than the size of your hand, but they are very hard to catch!

Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve – we usually start at the pond right by the Interpretive Center and then follow the Woodcock trail (blue markings) and there are several places to find frogs along the way. 

Mountain Bay Trail in Howard – specifically between Spring Green Park and Pinecrest Rd

Deerfield Docks Park – we haven’t caught many in Duck Creek or the Bay, but there is usually water on the trail leading under the highway where we have caught a lot

Fonferek’s Glen Conservancy Area – we have found several here on our walk through the creek to get to the falls

Additional tips for frog catching-

  • The best time of day to catch frogs is a warm, humid evening when it is still light out.  We have found success during all times of the day, however.  Last year we went out between 9-11 am most days and never had a problem finding them. 
  • Multiple kids = multiple nets and buckets.  I learned last year that each boy needed their own bucket with “their” frogs to hold or there were arguments. 
  • No hand sanitizer, bug spray, or other chemicals on your hands that can be absorbed into the frog’s skin
  • Always have extra clean towels in the car to wipe off with and even a change of clothes just in case.  We also use baby wipes to wipe down before we can get home and shower or take a bath
  • If you don’t enjoy frogs, water, getting dirty, etc at least give your kids the chance to experience it and don’t make it out to be something gross or unenjoyable! It is OK to allow our kids to try new things that we are 100% certain we have never enjoyed.
  • If your children love frog catching, check out the Summer Camps Guide! My oldest son attended a day camp at Baird Creek titled “The Creek and Its Critters” which he absolutely loved!

Do you have any questions about frog catching?  I did this when I was a kid and starting doing it again when my oldest was about 3, so I hope to be able to answer any questions you may have. Have fun!

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