Frogs scream for a number of reasons, including as a defensive mechanism to defend their territory from predators, as a distress call, as a warning to others in their colony, or during mating.
Frogs scream for the following reasons:
- To defend against predators
- To defend their territory
- Screams are distress calls
- To release mating calls
- Warning screams
- Females may scream when they don’t want to breed
Some frogs scream more loudly than others. The majority of the frogs will scream for the above reasons.
The screams will vary from species to species; some will be longer than others, while some screams will also be higher pitched than others.
The loudest frog on Earth is the Puerto Rican Coqui frog.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the reasons behind frog screaming in more detail to get to the bottom of this strange behavior.
Reasons Why Frogs Scream
These are some of the most common and possible reasons why frogs scream so much and so frequently.
1. Defensive Mechanism
First and foremost, screaming is meant to deter their predators when frogs feel endangered. Some frogs will scream very loudly in the hope of deterring their predators from attacking or eating them.
It is just one of the defensive mechanisms that frogs use to defend themselves. Some frogs use only screaming as their defensive mechanism, while others will use it in combination with different methods, such as poisonous skin secretions, defensive postures, and even biting.
Frogs will start screaming already when they are first approached by a predator or when one is close to them. But the screaming will be at its most intense when the predator gets too close or when the predator grabs the frog in its mouth.
In this case, the screaming will be very high-pitched and high-intensity. In some cases, the screaming will work to deter the predators, but usually, it will take a combination of other defensive mechanisms for it to work properly.
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2. Territorial Screams
Frogs can be quite territorial against frogs of other or the same species. Often, they will perceive other frogs as their potential territorial competitors, prompting them to act against them.
One of the signs of territorial aggression in frogs is heavy screaming against the claimant of their territory. It has been studied that younger frogs are more likely to act against potential claimants and more vigorously so than older individuals. That’s mainly because older frogs have more experience deciphering which frog is actually a threat to their territorial existence.
In frogs, males play the role of defending their territories against other males of the same or another frog species. When the two males clash, you might see different types of combat, including physical combat. Almost all frogs, however, will also use screaming to discourage their opponents.
Usually, the louder the frog is, the higher its chances of winning the territory will be.
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3. Mating Calls
Male frogs scream and croak to impress their potential mates.
The frog mating season lasts from March to late June. During this period, males want to do everything possible to attract a potential mate. One of the most notable mechanisms that male frogs use is croaking and mating calls.
The female’s body is made in such a way that it is adapted to these calls. The male that croaks loudest is usually the most desirable mating partner for the females. The loudness of the calls shows the male’s health status and his potential as a possible breeding partner increases.
For this reason, females choose male partners with the loudest croaking sounds. This is also one of the reasons why you might hear loud frog screams and croaks during the mating season every spring and summer.
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4. Distress Calls
Frog screaming may be ad distress call in some cases. Frogs will release distress calls when they are surrounded by their predators or when they are snatched in the mouth of the predator.
The distress call is meant to deter the predator from eating the frog. It is meant to portray the frog as a dangerous animal for the predator and the purpose is to force the predator to release the frog from its mouth.
Sometimes, this mechanism might work, but in most cases, the predator won’t be bothered too much. But there is some evidence that the louder the screams are, the higher the likelihood will be that the predator will release the frog.
Related Article: Do Frogs Bite?
5. Frogs Scream to Warn Other Frogs
In addition to screams being distress calls, frog screams also act as warning to other frogs in the colony that they are in danger or there’s something that could be harmful to them.
In some cases, frogs might use these warning calls to let other frogs in the vicinity know that there’s something potentially dangerous around them that could also be lethal if the frogs approach this danger.
On the other hand, some frogs also remain silent when they are in danger. This is another subtle sign that tells other frogs around them that something is off. Silence is sometimes the best form of defense for frogs.
6. Females Scream When They Don’t Want to Breed
When a female frog screams, it may mean that she is not ready to mate and the screams are her way of letting males around her know.
This happens often when a male tries to breed with the female, but the female is not in the mood for it. It might be either because the female has just released her eggs, or maybe because she has already been breeding with another male.
Sometimes, males are not very subtle when it comes to breeding. They might just grab another potential female mate and start breeding, but the female might not be receptive at all. If that is the case, the female will start screaming loudly to turn the male away.
Frog screaming can have many different meanings. It might act as a defensive mechanism against a predator or another threat to their territory.
Or it might be an act of mating or a distress call. Not all frogs scream in the same way and as loudly as others, so screams can have different meanings in various scenarios.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.