By Richard Enfield
Frog imagery is often used by many on the dissident right. After many years of observing and appreciating this, it occured to me to purchase amphibians of my own to keep as pets. Based on my experiences I would like to encourage others to do the same, particularly anyone spiritually drained by the modern world and seeking a rejuvenating pastime.
Many years ago as a child, I noticed fire-bellied toads in the local pet store and dreamed of acquiring some of my own. For reasons I cannot recall I never managed to do so. However, in researching pet amphibians more recently I saw this species repeatedly come up as a very popular one, easy to care for and strikingly beautiful. After several months of dealing with possibly COVID-related shortages of these animals in major reptile and amphibian stores, I managed to have three tiny froglets shipped to my town.
The vast majority of Americans who have pets have either cats or dogs. There is a dramatic drop-off in popularity after these two leading types of animals, with only about 10% of households owning freshwater fish, 4% having reptiles, and amphibians included in a broad “other” category kept by only 5%. For some reason, most people are not interested in amphibian pets, but they are missing out.
Amphibians, like cold-blooded animals in general, have a much lower metabolism than warm-blooded animals, and this means they differ in interesting ways from normie pets. Although fire-bellied toads are more high-energy and thus hungrier than most, they can still do without food for longer than a dog or cat. Once they reach adulthood, they do not need to be fed every day.
Not only does the fire-bellied toad not need to expend energy to maintain his body temperature, but unlike Third World food items like the guinea pig, he does not waste his energy in anxious chortling or scurrying about. His abilities include hunting, swimming, and strange contortions to ward off predators, but he spends a great deal of time sitting wisely in the water, with no motion except that of his throat to indicate he is still alive and breathing. By this he seems to say, “I am a frog. I can do no other.”
This simplicity also means that he is not demanding on his owner’s attention, nor does he provide affection in return. Although many frogs can live in groups, they are not sociable in the way cats or dogs are. They do not need physical contact with each other outside of mating, and generally do not appreciate being handled by humans. Even if he was physically capable of it, a frog would not brush up against you to demand petting, nor would he yelp with excitement at your presence.
There are allegedly those who have pets out of a vain desire for affection which they cannot obtain from other people, known as “cat ladies” or “dog moms.” These people will not appreciate frogs, as frogs cannot even superficially take the place of a child or a husband. These animals are more appropriate for those who are satisifed with a simple model of strength and beauty.
The frog’s vocalizations are also not meant to attract human attention. Some of them have beautiful singing voices, like the gray tree frog, while others have a miserable moan, like the Eastern spadefoot or “cuck toad.” But all of these are directed towards amphibian purposes. Mostly they are attempts by males to attract females for mating, and he who sings most vigorously is most likely to attract the best mates. It can be difficult to tell the difference between males and females visually, even for other frogs, so during mating season a male will sometimes mount another male by mistake. The mounted amphibian responds with what is sometimes called the “no homo” call, prompting the marauding male to release him.
Unlike that of cats and dogs, which can simply be allowed to wander around the house or the yard, the care of frogs mainly consists of creating and maintaining their habitats. These are usually large glass tanks which can be easily found at pet stores or ordered online, but arranging their contents can be more involved. This is an aesthetic task which can be very uplifting to the spirit.
I have never seen a doghouse or a hamster cage which I would describe as aesthetically pleasing. By contrast, frog enclosures are often pieces of art. In a plasticized and urbanized society, there is no denying the benefits to the soul of being exposed to nature, even in domesticated forms like fish tanks or house plants. This is even more the case for more advanced installations like those often occupied by frogs.
Like most amphibians, frogs spend the first stages of their life cycle in the water and later metamorphose into an adult form which allows them to live on land. As adults, they still need to spend time in the water, as they must absorb moisture through their skin. This means their habitats must include water, either in a dish or in an aquatic section of the enclosure. Some keepers go to great lengths to create suitable environments, including aquatic plants, pumps, filters, drainage systems, and even waterfalls.
Frogs generally need not only liquid water but high humidity, and their environments should be designed with this in mind. Keeping water in the enclosure raises the humidity, as it gradually evaporates. Live peat moss is often used as well, as it absorbs a great deal of moisture and then releases it over time. There is also a type of soil known as coco peat or coco fiber, made from the husks of coconuts, which is recommended for frog enclosures as it serves the same purpose. The habitat can be misted with a spray bottle, and some keepers even install automatic misting systems.
The care of frogs overlaps to some degree with gardening, as it is common to decorate their enclosures with live plants. Gardening is sometimes used rhetorically as an example of a boring and inconsequential pastime, but this is not my experience of it. On the contrary, when mainstream entertainment is so focused on consumption, it is an opportunity to produce something tangible. Common plants include pothos or “devil’s ivy,” a type of hardy vine similar to a philodendron, along with flowering plants such as the peace lily, whose roots create an interesting aesthetic as they can grow from the land into the water. These provide shelter and climbing space for the frogs as well as beautifying the enclosure. Seeing plants grow and develop along with the animals themselves, as they would in nature, has been much more uplifting than maintaining a static enclosure for a rodent or merely providing resources for a cat to consume.
The remaining important factor in frog care is providing them with suitable food, and this is another area in which their character stands out. The frog diet in captivity mainly consists of crickets, which can be bought very cheaply at pet stores, and they can also be given other small insects and larvae such as mealworms and waxworms. Feeding frogs is unlike feeding cats or dogs, whose food is prepackaged, lifeless, and consumed without effort. Instead it is an opportunity to see a predator hunting.
The popular South American horned frog or “pacman frog,” named for its enormous mouth, round shape and undiscriminating appetite, is not a very interesting hunter. He spends most of his time buried in the soil, not moving until his prey wanders directly in front of his face, at which point he begins a leisurely gobbling process. Such low-energy frogs resemble depictions of gluttony in demon form and I disavow them.
The fire-bellied toad, by contrast, is a high energy frog and shows this in how he deals with other living things. The most interesting frog behavior I have ever seen is what is called the unken reflex, named after the German word Unken, meaning “fire-bellied toads.” I had added several relatively large crickets to a feeding tank with my frogs, and one of the latter began leaping about furiously, something I had never seen before and found alarming. His body became contorted as if he had been pressed by a terrible thumb, and I was afraid my frog was broken. However he soon returned to his normal shape and I realized after consulting the internet what had happened.
Apparently the insects were so large that the frogs felt threatened. The unken reflex is a response to the threat of predation, displayed by several types of amphibians. The animal arches its back and may twist its limbs backwards and even flip itself upside down to display the bright colors on its underside. Some say that this announces to predators that the animal is poisonous, which is usually true, driving away the hungry beast. But I say he is daring the predator to eat him. Like the early Christians who threw themselves to the lions, he figures that if is going to die he might as well go out with style. He holds his head up and clearly lacks any amphibian guilt. Often he literally swells with pride.
Fire-bellied toads in particular have an enormous appetite, and are willing to assault prey that is nearly as large as themselves. I have seen one of my champions almost entirely swallow an enormous mealworm, the foul beast wriggling insolently as if to reject the frog’s natural supremacy in the food chain, until the hunter finally realized he could not fit the creature in his stomach and spat it out. I have often seen one take crickets which he could not swallow in one gulp, so that half of the still-living cricket protruded from the predator’s mouth. Nature has not seen fit to provide him with a fork and knife, so he flails at his quarry with his front legs in a clumsy yet determined attempt to push it down his throat. Some say that the fire-bellied toad has no sense of being full, so it is up to the owner’s discretion in feeding to prevent him from bloating up to a ridiculous size.
The frog is exclusively a predator. He will never eat fruits or vegetables, nor will he eat any animal that is already dead. Unlike some of his reptile cousins, no frog has ever been persuaded to eat something as ungodly as a “mulberry madness meal replacement powder.” Even when surrounded by dead crickets, he will starve to death rather than eat them. Some say this is because he is too stupid to recognize anything that is not moving as food. I say it is because he is too proud to eat like a hyena. We could learn from his example.
My frogs are noble and beautiful creatures. They are the best way I have yet found to incorporate the beauty of nature into everyday life, and have served me in a great struggle against a loss of spirit. I could give one piece of advice to anyone in our sphere, it would be this: Keep frogs of your own.