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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Five: Case File No. 22-230

AMBER LOVE 11-OCT-2021 This work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast.

Where We Left Off:

In our last case file, we examined different winged creatures and their egg-laying.

A is for Amphibian:

We’ve had a number of cases involving frogs, toads, and the occasional fae world vodni­ci. To truly make this an international case file, let me explain first that I have been using Duolingo for Spanish and French this year. I often mix them together and get a Franglish situation. Now for this discussion on amphibians, I will also explain that even before becoming vegetarian, I have never tried frogs legs — not deep-fried, stir-fried, soup or any other culinary delicacy of edible frog.


Case 22-230A:

Depending where you find yourself in the world, the species of frog used for food varies. Plus one species can have multiple names in just one country anyway which makes things a little confusing. The edible frog of France seems to be a common pond frog with black spots and racing stripes (dorsolateral ridges). Imagine a car painted in Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year “greenery” with black accents and trim. However, if you can believe Wikipedia, the US culinary fare would be made from bullfrogs or leopard frogs. The name “leopard frog” is a broad term. Within it, lies the Pickerel Frog which brings us to one of our two recent amphibian cases.

Gus at fort

As far as frog creatures go, this one was cuter than the smaller one discussed in part B of the case file. It didn’t look as slimy. Nonetheless, it was icky enough for my standards that I used a twig to pick it up and examine it for injuries after Gus bit it.

It all started because we saw a lovely spotted fawn in the grotto. I wanted to see how close we could get to take photos. Gus followed me to Fort Winchester and he surprised me by climbing all over the fort to get a variety of vantage points for his stakeout to watch the beast. He even climbed to the top floor on his own which he often doesn’t do and cries for me to pick him up. Well, he was not about to act like he couldn’t climb in front of a large beast. After the fawn left, Gus refused to leave. We had been out a long time, but he immediately became preoccupied with a different creature.

Gus at fort

The previous times Gus has found anything at the bottom floor of Fort Winchester, they were creatures of the rodent variety: mice and voles. Needless to say, my assumption that this is what he had was totally wrong. I was standing up and kept trying to talk him into going home. The Butler had already walked away. Eventually I saw something white in the grass which Gus had left there. I thought that was odd and definitely not a mouse. Maybe the belly of a large bug. Then I got closer!

Gus and frog

“What did you do? What is that?” I said.

Je voudrais manger cuisses de grenouille,” Gus said.

Is he learning better French than I am? How? At which point he reminds me that he’s one-quarter Jamaican.

Psych Gus and Shawn

“Gus, I don’t think they speak French in Jamaica. Whatever! Now I have to see if it’s hurt and we are definitely going home after that.”

I found a small piece of a twig and was able to get the creature to use three of its legs to turn itself right side up. I think the one leg was broken and I don’t know the survivability rate of an amphibian with only three working legs. If it wasn’t destined to overcome this injury, perhaps it was meant to be someone else’s lunch. There’s a hawk living nearby so maybe it likes frogs?

As far as we know, frogs of this type don’t possess any kind of regeneration abilities like some other amphibians. However, with three good strong appendages maybe this one will be just fine.

Case 22-230B:

The second case happened earlier with an even smaller living specimen that Gus discovered in the weeds and junk pile next to the mobile command unit. He was actively stalking something moving through the weeds. I thought it was likely a baby Gorgon since that’s a common spot to find them. Then I saw what I thought was a large bug hop onto the cement slab. I got closer and couldn’t believe that it was a tiny little frog type creature.

I was also surprised Gus hadn’t eaten it or at least tried to. That was the location where he bit a vodni­ci and its magical poison made Gus foam at the mouth but was otherwise harmless; Oliver had a similar experience when he found one indoors! That’s why I was immediately concerned about this tiny critter and whether Gus would continue to be interested in it.

frog closeup

This little critter got scared when I got “too close” which honestly wasn’t all that close since I was using a zoom lens and trying get low to the ground without shaking. Anyway, I got a few usable photos and uploaded them to iNaturalist. The app’s automated identification came up as an Eastern Spadefoot, but a human user corrected it to a Green Frog.

In a few hops, the creature made its way into the corner of the primary bay door of the hangar. There’s enough separation for critters to squeeze through. I lost track of it after that and returned my attention to Gus. The good news is he was completely fine and showed no signs of having tried to eat a vodnici. This little creature appeared terrified of me (I am large and scary) even though I was only trying to take its picture. I guess I didn’t exhibit the proper body language to explain, “Please stay, I won’t hurt you, but that fuzzy black cat might so avoid him.”

Green frogs of the Lithobates genus are common terrarium pets. Since they are not bullfrogs but could be mistaken for them, I would guess some people have probably eaten them. They don’t look anything like leopard frogs so there’s no case of mistaken identity there.

Gus and fairy

Case Findings:

I still find it strange and unusual that amphibians are found in this backyard at all. We don’t have a pond although one is about a quarter-mile away but across a busy road and through steeply sloped thick woodland. Parts of the yard do get significantly squishy from rain and snow. That must be enough water for these creatures to survive, but it doesn’t seem like this would be the ideal place for them to inhabit.

As far as comparing the two recent visitors, Gus properly identified the one that would be considered food, but he opted to only maim the creature. We asked the fairies to keep their eyes and ears open in case gossip travels their way about the Pickerel Frog. It’s likely going to have a challenging time surviving though that is not out of the realm of possibilities.

Case Status: Closed

Oliver catnip

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