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Bullfrogs for sale

03 March 2024

American Bullfrogs, Lithobates catesbeiana for sale in supermarkets

I have long been fascinated by the behaviour of American bullfrogs, Lithobates catesbeiana, sold in supermarkets in China. Anyone familiar with these species in their native North America will know that they are easily spooked and quickly disappear at the first sign of movement by jumping into nearby water. Individuals in invasive populations are no different and this causes a lot of issues for those who attempt to control their numbers, as I found out when I was hunting them in San Diego (see here).

Even invasive populations in China act just the same and are very flighty. But the animals that you see in the supermarket are completely sedate, not jumping at all. Usually, these animals are sold in plastic string bags, and they seem to sit very quietly. Nothing like what I’d imagine if I put wild-caught animals into a bag.

But in a supermarket in Kunming, I came across bullfrogs in a wide-open container with a very low wall that all of them were capable of jumping out of. They were not restricted in any way, yet they just sat and I did not see any individuals moving.

What other behaviours have changed for these farmed animals? Are there many other traits of domestication? Are these same domestication traits shared by the turtles in the adjacent tank?

There are some great questions to investigate with these frogs, especially as there are many local invasive populations to sample nearby.

  Frogs  Lab
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