Kermit Herding: The Art of Teaching Kids to Catch Frogs

Kermit Herding: The Art of Teaching Kids to Catch Frogs

My parents are fond of telling anyone who will listen how I had an affinity for amphibians right out the gate. The house we lived in during the first five years of my life sat on a dead-end street where the asphalt ended just short of a small pond.

As soon as I could walk, they like to say, I was on my way to the water to try to catch frogs. They talk about how often they’d lose track of me only to see their tow-headed toddler stalking Kermits at the water’s edge—an equal testament to my obsession and the kind of parenting style that leads to quasi-feral kids.

There must be something genetic there. Perhaps I come from a long line of frog eaters. I don’t know, but what I do know is that my daughters (and most kids) are fascinated with frogs and toads. There are few more enjoyable ways to entertain a youngster than a good frog-catching session, but you have to have the right stuff first.

catching frogs

Nets & Buckets

If you have a black belt in frog snatching, you might not need a net. You might have the skill set to sneak up heron-like and then use your fast twitch muscles to grab a bullfrog from the muck. You might also be delusional when it comes to your skills. It doesn’t matter either way because young kids don’t have what it takes to fill up a bucket with frogs without a net.

A good, sturdy net that is built for the task is a huge plus. Combine that with a bucket or a plastic tote, and you’re pretty much geared up and good to go. The next thing to do is develop a frog-catching strategy.

how to catch frogs

Frog Scoops & Drives

In gin-clear water, spooked Kermits will usually swim far enough to get away from you. In stained water or water with good frog cover (weeds), they seem to feel safe enough to swim a short way and then try to hide. The strategy here is to walk along until you flush one and then stand perfectly still until it pokes its eyes above the surface. When it does, scooping toward its nose is the best bet because it’s harder for them to get away when they are facing the net.

If your hunting grounds aren’t conducive to this style, you’ll likely need to do a frog drive. Just like with some people, frogs aren’t known for their critical thinking skills. They tend to focus on what they perceive to be the biggest threat. If they are on land sunning themselves like leopard frogs love to do, it’ll seem like they are just hopping randomly to get away. Which, they are.

You can use this to your advantage by waiting for a frog to stop and then having your child position the net almost vertically in front of them. Frogs tolerate slow movements, so advise accordingly. Then, it’s your job to sneak up behind and bump the frog in the direction of the net. They’ll usually do most of the work for you by hopping straight into the net, but they also often veer just out of the way of your trap. Follow, reset, and try again.

kermit herding

Ground Rules

My gene-deep love of frogs means I don’t want them to suffer. From the time my daughters were barely old enough to walk, we caught frogs and toads like crazy. We also had a rule that if anything we caught got injured or worse, the session was over. Like a new OSHA rule, this was borne after watching one of my young daughters roll a baby toad between her hands, which did not do him any favors.

The girls were also allowed to build little habitats, but as soon as the frog-catching fun was over, everything had to be released. We went into it knowing that this was a temporary pet situation and nothing more. This went for everything else we caught as well, from minnows and snakes to salamanders.

The other rule I had, which was for myself, was to explain as much as I could. If there are tadpoles around, you can explain the life cycle of a frog. Maybe you’ll see some snails or some dragonfly larvae that deserve some attention. Just like with any hunt, the end goal is a nice motivator, but the experience is what matters.

This applies to a lot of things we do as adults, but also to an hourlong foray along the edge of a pond where slippery, jumpy adventure awaits.

For more information on how to get kids interested in the outdoors, check out these articles: What to Look for When Purchasing a Youth Bow, Lessons From Trout Fishing With Kids, and How Not to Introduce Your Kids to Guns.

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