On Naomi Higo’s first day at Douglas College, her supervisor introduced her to two frogs that seemed strangely familiar. As the new Biology Laboratory Facilitator at Douglas, this wasn’t her first rodeo with Budgett’s frogs – an aquatic frog native to Paraguay and Bolivia with a flattened body, wide mouth and sharp teeth. Her froggy experience dates back to her time at Ocean Wise’s Vancouver Aquarium, where she volunteered as a frog husbandry assistant.
Her work at Ocean Wise included feeding the frogs as well as feeding the animals fed to the frogs: crickets. In her spare moments, Naomi got acquainted with the resident Budgett’s frogs, which were placed in the Aquarium’s care after being seized at the border. They were never on display, but kept in a behind-the-scenes area known as the Shark Penthouse.
You might also know Budgett’s frogs as hippo frogs, Freddy Krueger frogs (because of their long digits and aggressive tendencies) or Wednesday frogs, a tribute to their comical appearance in a popular Internet meme.
But for Naomi, they were nom nom frogs – a reference to their voracious appetite. Budgett’s frogs use the fangs on their lower jaw to capture insects, snails, and even other frogs. If none of these are available, Naomi says that they are happy to chase after a caretaker’s finger, hence the nickname.
Eventually Naomi bid her amphibian friends in the Shark Penthouse farewell when she took a position in Ocean Wise’s Mobile Education Programs. In her new job aboard a travelling wet lab called the Aquavan, she brought marine creatures and education to land-locked communities. She also had a chance to interact with more people, which was important for her. “You can only talk to the frogs for so long before you start to feel a bit crazy,” she says. This was especially true in the case of the Budgett’s frogs, whose vocalizations are a high-pitched screech.
After her more social time with the AquaVan, she eventually landed her new job at Douglas College. Which is where she encountered the two Budgett’s frogs. She remarked to her new supervisor that she had actually cared for this species before and her supervisor explained that these frogs came from the Aquarium. They were in fact the very same two frogs that Naomi had cared for before. They now keep her company at her new job.
In the future, Naomi hopes to continue gaining experience as an adult educator. Maybe one day she will begin developing curriculum programs, too. However, she will always have a soft spot for the frogs.
“I still get joy out of looking after animals, and working with the frogs is still one of my fondest memories and an accomplishment I like to brag about.”
Megan Bull is studying Environmental Science at the University of British Columbia and writing for Ocean Wise’s Aquablog.