Why Frogs Croak
A Tale from Native American Literature

This story was borrowed from a page on The Use of Myths in Science at the Access Excellence science education site. The myth section seems to be no longer online, but they've got a lot of other cool biology-related experiments and activities for teachers and kids at their site. Check them out!

Once, long ago, the days and nights were of varying lengths. Brother Sun made some of the days very long and the following nights could also be very long. Many of the animals did not like this. They wished the days were more regulated and even, as they are now.

The animals got together and formed a committee to ask Brother Sun to better regulate the day length. There were many animals on the committee but two of the notable ones were Frog and Grizzly Bear. They were the two chosen by the rest of the committee to survey the rest of the animals.

Grizzly wanted one long day and one long night. He ate all day and slept all night. Long days and nights seemed very logical to him. Frog, on the other hand, wanted shorter days and nights. Frog did not live very long and he wanted his rest and feeding time to be spread out so he could enjoy them. Grizzly was a big bully of a bear. He sauntered around, speaking to each of the animals about the length of the days and the nights. Because he was a bully, he growled to each animal "SIX MONTHS DAY AND SIX MONTHS NIGHT," showing his big teeth and long claws. He growled to Fox, "SIX MONTHS DAY AND SIX MONTHS NIGHT." Grizzly growled to Owl, "SIX MONTH'S DAY AND SIX MONTHS NIGHT." He saw Fish, "SIX MONTHS DAY AND SIX MONTHS NIGHT." After every animal was talked to, Grizzly wandered off to a den and took a long nap.

Frog, on the other hand, was a sociable sort of fellow. He hopped from place to place, listening to what the animals had to say. It didn't matter to Fish what the day length was. Swimming could be done at night as well as during the day. Fox preferred dawn and dusk and wanted many of those at fairly regular intervals. Owl, on the other hand, liked to hunt at night but enjoyed sleeping during the day. Periods of six months of day and six months of night were too long for Owl.

After listening to all of the animals, Frog returned to the committee to report. After Frog's report, the committee looked around for Grizzly. Grizzly, being a big bully, was sure that the rest of the animals would vote his way and did not bother to wake up from his long nap to return to the committee to report.

The committee weighed all the possibilities and choices, taking into consideration the opinions of all the animals surveyed. They voted. Eagle was sent to tell Brother Sun of their decision. Brother Sun agreed that their choice was possible and he changed the day length to be what we know today. The days in winter were to be short and progress to being longer until midsummer when they were again begin to shorten. The nights were to be just the opposite, going from long in winter to short in summer.

Frog was so happy about his part in the decision that he hopped from place to place, croaking, in a chirpy little voice, "One day, one night. One day, one night." He was so proud of himself and his descendants are also proud. In fact, if you listen quietly just shortly after the sun sets, you may hear the frogs still croaking, "One day, one night. One day, one night. One day, one night. One day, one night."

 Jump back to the Froggy Page!
Sandra Loosemore