07/11/04 — Frogs like this one don't come hopping around here every day

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Frogs like this one don't come hopping around here every day

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 11, 2004 2:02 AM

Dylan Barfield had already found one frog in cousin A.J. Barfield's back yard Thursday night. They were pursuing their next mission, finding food for it, when a unique sight caught their attention.

"We saw another frog hopping around," said 12-year-old Dylan. "But it looked more like a baby bird when it is first born, without the feathers."

The grayish frog had pink markings and a blue ring around its black eyes.

The youths quickly scooped up the animal and put it into a small cage.

When Dylan left A.J.'s Pikeville residence and reached his own home in the Belfast community, mom Jana admits she didn't exactly "leap" for joy over the gift. But being a supportive parent, she chose to help him.

"We spent about two hours on the Internet researching frogs," she said.

Mrs. Barfield said the animal had all the traits of a typical frog, but she wondered if it might be an "albino" because of its different pigmentation.

Calls to experts on Friday ruled that out.

"We called the extension service, but they weren't familiar with it," she said. "Then we called the forestry service, but they have never heard of anything like that."

She was referred to the Cliffs of the Neuse, which she learned has a program that studies frogs, river life, and amphibians. An appointment was scheduled for Monday with what she calls the "resident frog girl."

Mrs. Barfield said she has learned from her computer quest that frogs don't drink water, but absorb moisture from grass or ponds or ditches. Temperature and humidity can also change a frog's color from green to brown and even yellow, she said.

"It's been very hot and rainy lately," she said. "That may have contributed to the change in color."

When she decided to take a picture of the frog, she said she received a surprise.

"It was remarkable," she said. "It looked white in contrast to the grass.

"In the cage, it looks more pink."

She said the boys have been feeding their catch Junebugs and earthworms, and will decide what to do with it after Monday's meeting with the expert.

"If she tells us it's a rarity, not that common, we may take it to the state level," she said, referring to information she received about researchers at N.C. State University.

In the meantime, Mrs. Barfield says if she had known how happy the backyard scavenger hunt would make her oldest child, the family could've saved money on this year's vacation trip.

"We just got back from several days at White Lake," she says. "After all that, he finds the frog and says, 'This is the coolest day ever!'"