A Toad Trip: Friendly Frogs Draw Tourists to Temple

Wat Frogs

This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.

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Wats are full of turkeys and frogs, and sometimes storks too…

Wat cats If you are an animal lover, one of the first things you notice in Thailand are the decaying dogs laying around scenic Wats.

Their scabby bodies make my heart hurt. Yours too?

Disregarding the sickly canine and healthy cats – why is that? – Wats are wonderful places to find animals; if not actual wildlife.

Amongst the shady trees at Wat Chalerm Pragiat (วัด เฉลิม พระเกียรติ์), I counted turkeys, rabbits, guinea fowl, chickens, and peacocks: Thai Turkeys for Thanksgiving.

There’s even a fruit bat Wat in Chachoengsao Province (I’ve been, so expect a post sometime soon): The Bat Temple.


The reason I said, if not wildlife, is because this post was supposed to be about the Openbilled Stork Temple at Wat Phai Lom (วัดไผ่ล้อม).

Wat cats To explain… Reading Richard’s instructions to the temple, I planned out my day. Then, loading into Khun Pissout’s taxi, Khun Phairo, Chris(tine) (a newcomer to Thailand), and myself drove quite a ways to the stork temple.

But instead of hearing thousands of storks circling above, only stragglers were to be found.

Why? Two months before the storks were due to arrive, the Thai government sprayed poison throughout the protected grounds. Why? The bird flu. Sigh… So I’ll just have to head back to Wat Phai Lom next year…

Storks were still showing up in ones and twos, but they’d leave the very same day. Sad.

Frog, frogs and more frogs…

Done out of my grand stork adventure – the lost photo opportunities were a grrrrrrrrr – I looked for a replacement. Logical, or no.

Storks eat frogs, so here you have it. A close enough fit:

Phuketgazette: Friendly Frogs Draw Tourists to Temple: Phrakhrupradit Kijjarak, 46, the abbot of Wat Rachpraditthan in Phra Nakhon Sri Ayudhaya District, said the temple’s frog community started out with two baby golden frogs that appeared in the lotus pond around the end of Buddhist lent in October..

The day after the story of the frogs was published in the Thai press, around 500 tourists came to pet the animals.

As the story was first published in the Thai press, I’m guessing that tourists = Thais. Now, as people go Thais are pretty small (shooting envy their way), but I still can’t imagine how 500 people of any size crammed into this quiet strip of tiling at Wat Rachpraditthan (วัดราชประดิษฐาน). Can you?

Please excuse the driving in that video. I haven’t found my way around the knobs on the camera, so sometimes I’m zooming out when I should be zooming in.

Not knowing what type of frogs they were (and always wanting to know WHY?), I put the question to Hugh from Retire2Thailand.com. Hugh lives surrounded by a garden in Chiang Mai, which is closer to wildlife than most parts of Bangkok (where I am).

I did some reading on the frog farms and a very popular frog to raise here, and the one that might be in your picture could be the r.catesbeiana variety, or the introduced American Bullfrog. But that has a lot of green coloration in it. They also raise the r.tigerina and r. rugulose or tiger frogs. But they look really different from your picture.

In the market they tie the frogs together at the waist, about four or five to a bundle. They tie them so tight that I think it breaks their backs. I bought a bundle once thinking that I could release them. One couldn’t walk at all and the others were so injured that they just floated on the water.

I’ve eaten them too. They taste OK though and the Thais eat the whole body whereas the Americans, and French of course, seem to eat only the legs.

Wat Frogs

I use to eat “fried frog skins” (หนัง กบ ทอด – năng gòp tôt). They peel the skin off the frog and deep fry it like a potato chip. They come out exactly in the shape of a frog. But those were during my drinking days. Since I stopped that, potato chips are enough for me now.

The Asian Giant Toad (a close relative?) can be around 4″ – 8″ long and really fat like the one in your picture. I have seen (with my eyes) a cobra eating one. If you have a lot around your house you may also have cobras since that is what they like to eat. I don’t know anything else that eats them.

I sometimes find them in my shoes in the morning.

Here’s a list of things found (so far) in my shoes:

  • Toads (คางคก – kaang-kók)
  • Bull frogs (อึ่งอ่าง – èung-àang)
    The ones that sound like a herd of cows coming down the road in the rainy season.
  • House geckos (จิ้งจก – jîng-jòk)
  • House gecko eggs (ไข่จิ้งจก – kài jîng-jòk)
  • Scorpions (แมงป่อง – maeng bpòng)
  • Centipedes (ตะขาบ – dtà-kàap)
  • Millipedes (กิ้งกือ – gîng-geu)
  • Earth worms (ไส้เดือน – sâi deuan)
  • Cockroaches (แมลงสาบ – má-laeng sàap)
  • Spiders (แมงมุม – maeng mum)

Advice: Always shake your shoes out in the morning because you’ll never know what went in there the night before.

And now I know even more about Hugh. He has roomy shoes.

Like Hugh mentioned, in Thailand frogs are called กบ (gòp). At ObOb Farm, they are also known as dinner. If you click on that link, be sure to scroll down to see hundreds of the beautiful creatures.

Note: Frog photos will be going up at: Catherine Wentworth: Photography: Frogs. And no worries, I won’t post the many barbecued frogs in my collection. Not there anyway.

Wat Frogs

Wat Frogs

Wat Frogs

17 thoughts on “A Toad Trip: Friendly Frogs Draw Tourists to Temple”

  1. I did wonder what the Thai people used the frog for. I was in a hot spring in Mae Hong Son when a saw a staff checking a plastic bag. It looked like there was something alive inside. He left the bag unattended to do some work so I went to check the bag when I saw a frog. I felt really sorry for it. It was super hot and he was inside 2 plastic bags with no air. I let the frog free and I left the place quickly before the staff came back. No regrets. It’s not that the Thai guy had nothing to eat. There are plenty of rice, fruits and veggies around there. There’s no excuse to treat an animal like that. Animal feels pain and fear in any culture and in any country. But I understand of us are uneducated when it comes to animal pain and compassion for them.

  2. Fascinating – I live and teach English in Phuket and if they actually eat them and the resounding answer was no BUT if they were from Issan they would. They were even more surprised that you could be skinned frog in Makro!!

    We had a discussion about a frog and a toad and how one could tell the difference – so I had a class of Thai adults making noises like a the frog / toad in their garden.

    Then we found this site of the frogs in a Phuket Temple – which I will add to a place to visit in Thailand recordings and a site (http://www.naturenorth.com/spring/sound/shfrsnd.html) of recordings of frogs. I promised them that I would try to record the frogs in my garden…… watch this space

  3. John, I checked into frog farming in Thailand and it’s quite interesting. Did you know that you can rear eating frogs in plastic bottles? Put the frogs in plastic bottles, and the bottle on what looks like bookcases. So funny.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Thai 101 Learners Series: A Trusted Native Speaker is Essential =-.

  4. i could just do with rearing a few hundred gold frogs i have tried them as a food source but there like chicken wings you can eat dozens of them before you feel full
    its a mazing what you can find in the temples of Thailand quiet a few specialise in one thing our another

    talen can you see the video yet i have firebox also and all lates downloads of flash and codecs
    .-= john´s last blog ..new Thai biometric passport in london =-.

  5. Hi Kaewmala, I haven’t been to East Timor. Sounds awful. But I do know what you mean about India.

    The locals in Brunei also treat dogs badly. It’s a Muslim country, and dogs are considered unclean. So there is no pretense of taking care of the dogs. Not when I was there, anyway.

    As you can imagine, the majority of the dogs in Brunei are strays, not owned. Most of the healthy dogs I knew of were pets of expats or local Chinese.

    If you have a cat in Brunei, there is a free government veterinary clinic. Dogs were not allowed.

    Every so often, dogs were gathered in and made to disappear. Rumour has it that teams would go out with poison blowpipes to pick the dogs off one by one. I never saw it personally… so… shrug.

    Excellent that you spoke up about your neighour’s obese dog. Poor thing. There are more ways than starvation to kill an animal.

  6. Catherine,

    Love the post and the frog pictures. (The video works fine on my Firefox 3.5.7.)

    I’m too an animal lover, and it breaks my heart to see the animals so malnourished or poorly treated. Yeah, and people who dumped their animals at the temple should all in their next lives be born as oi dogs! Or frogs in Isaan or France!

    The skinniest dogs I’ve ever come across were in East Timor (people also eat dogs there), though the ones I saw in India during my last trip were also skin and bones.

    The fattest dogs I’ve seen are actually in my soi (in Sukhumvit). A result of too many “ใจดี” (jai-dii) Thai people in the soi feeding the dogs. In the last few years, the dogs in my soi have been ballooning quite alarmingly. One, that is not stray however, can even hardly walk now. She was very fat before, but now she’s terrifyingly obese and looks like a ไหกระเทียมต่อขา (garlic jar with legs).

    I chatted with a woman who is a neighbor of the obese dog’s owner; she said “what can you say to the owner that their dog is too fat?” She was too polite and obviously more Thai than I am. I had no compunction to tell my (different) neighbors that their dog was too fat and gave them tips on how to help the dog lose weight. The dog (a golden retriever) looks a little trimmer now.
    .-= kaewmala´s last blog ..Round Two: And the Dicky’s Gone to … the Ducky =-.

  7. Hmmmm… dunno. Jay and LX have both Mac and PC’s. I’m on a Mac. I’m not sure what else to try (restart?).

    If double clicking doesn’t take you to YouTube, here is it over there: A Monk Gathering Frogs

  8. Hi Alex. Thanks for checking the video for me 🙂 When it comes to eating frogs, I do agree with your paraplegic chicken comment. I always wondered what they did with all those spare body parts.

    The French and Americans (Australians too?) only eat the dangly little legs. But Thais eat the entire beast, so no waste.

    The photo above was taken during the stork trip when we happened by a frog and dried fish (of all sorts) hawker’s stall.

    Khun Pissout proudly came back to the car with a bag full of crispy frogs, but and Khun Phairo made him put them in the boot (she beat me to it).

    She does not like frogs (legs, live, or otherwise)… which is why there was no Khun Phairo on our frog adventure.

  9. I’m using Firefox 3.6 and everything is hunky dory. I’m not particularly fond of the French, but I do LOVE frogs. Frog Legs taste like chicken so I see no point in making them paraplegics.

  10. I agree. Very odd. I’ve sent it around to others to see what they are seeing. Frustrating if it cannot be seen. The monk was having a great time hauling out frogs… and how often does one see that?

  11. Martyn – I’m not sure why you’d be wary of Thailand’s frogs either. Have you been told scary frog stories on your trips out?

    Frogs keep me entertained many a rainy night. I love hearing the bullfrogs from the compound below (especially if all of my windows are shut). But I can’t take the piercing sound of tree frogs.

    Once, in Texas, I had a tree frog inside my house. It was tiny so took me forever to locate and turf out.

    Talen – there is a video on YouTube showing how to prepare and cook frogs Issan style. I stopped watching as soon as he got out the knife to put the poor thing ‘asleep’.

    I was shocked to be told about the poisoning of the storks. Before going on that trip, I’d researched and found that it was a protected area. That the government had deemed it protected. That it is one of the largest stork areas left in the world. I don’t know if the storks will give it another shot next year, but I aim to see.

    Is anyone else seeing the video? I checked on several browsers and it’s fine.

  12. Mmmm frogs. I absolutely love eating the little critters!

    It’s very sad that the Thai officials decided to spray poison around the grounds of the Wat …you would think that they would surely understand the significance of the storks to the site especially considering they are Buddhists.

    For some reason I’m not seeing the video Cat….not sure why.

  13. I wouldn’t mind a pound for every frog pictured on the ObOb Farm website.

    I don’t know why but Thailand’s frogs and toads make me a little wary and yet in England I don’t give a second thought when seeing one. I assume they are both harmless but having read Hugh’s cobra comment I’ll be doubly wary when in the LOS.

    I’ve never eaten frogs legs and I’ve no intention of doing so, perhaps unknowingly it might happen one day. The cooked ones in your photo do look a little tasty I must admit but somehow I just couldn’t take a bite. I think the thought of their big lazy looking eyes and massive squelchy girth puts me off. Good post.


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