My Eyes! My Eyes! - Beware the Gray Tree Frog


My 6 year old son, Sebastian, ran screaming into the house! "My eyes! My eyes!" He sobbed. My wife quickly grabbed his arm and led him into the bathroom and began flushing his eyes out with water. Once the pain and irritation had subsided from his eyes and he had quit crying, we asked him what had happened.

After a couple of hours, he nervously admitted that he had been handling a frog. So, we began a search of our backyard for the frog that he had been holding. Once we had located it (or one similar to it) it was identified as a Gray Tree Frog. They are amazingly easy to locate and catch in our backyard. Sebastian had evidently rubbed or touched his eyes after handling the frog- and the frog's skin secretions had caused the burning sensation and irritation of Sebastian's eyes.

I had never heard or read about any native North American frog causing anyone a problem due to handling. (Old wives tales about warts not-with-standing). So, I retrieved one of my amphibian guidebooks down from the shelf and began investigating the Gray Tree Frog. In big bold letters, the author had noted that skin secretions from the Gray Tree Frog can cause severe eye irritation.

The Gray Tree Frog can be either of the two colors shown in the accompanying photographs- either light or dark gray. Note the "X" pattern on the back of the dark gray tree frog- this marking provides an easy way to identify it.

Beware the Gray Tree Frog. You have been warned. (You CAN kiss them. Just be sure not to touch your eyes.) :)



16 comments:

...Kat said...

the tree frog I see all the time here is the Green tree Frogs living near my porch
but the Gray is out here too at times
don't they have that yellow to the thigh inside....

Anonymous said...

Aptly named critter the "gray tree frog". Some scientist had the creative juices flowin'. When are you gonna feature the "big brown bat"? Cool site Mr. Crabtree! Glad to have had a small part in ruining you for life.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the info, we have two sons 2 and 4 years old. They found and played with a frog this evening for few minutes before we were able to get them to leave it alone. We were just getting them cleaned up when our 2 year old started screaming about his eyes and of course rubbing them even more. While flushing his eyes, wondering what was going on our 4 years old started screaming as well. We figured out it was from the frogs since they both started screaming and they both handled the frogs. They are both better now but we were very concerned.

Vonnie said...

This article was very helpful for me and my 10 year old! He had found this frog,and brought it to me to show me. About 30 minutes later, my son had started complaining of his right nostril burning, and then soon after that he started complaining about his eyes hurting. At first I did not know what to do, or what was wrong, but finally remembered he had handled a frog.

Anonymous said...

I'm eleven and this happened to me after i handled 2 frogs. One of them had the X on it's back, and the other one just had weird spots. My eyes started to burn, i took a shower and rinsed them out. After 5 minutes i was fine again. So i looked this up, and i found out why that happened. (should probably be more careful next time touching the frogs.) :/

pbxman88 said...

Thanks for the post. I figured that this was what was going on when my 6 year old daughter started screaming. Not sure if it is related but she said her ear was hurting about 5 minutes before the eye irritation started. That may be due to the cold air and the wind she was playing in. Only time will tell on that one. The frog was a light gray color. Once again thanks for the post.

Koala Bay said...

My 3 year old granddaughter was holding a green tree frog. Not long after she began crying and telling me her eyes hurt. I kept flushing them. She must have rubbed her eyes. I was about to call 911 but looked here on the internet quick. We live in southern central PA.
Susan

Jeff said...

The same thing just happened to me. I found and photographed a green tree frog and 10 minutes later took off my glasses and rubbed my eyes. The burning started immediately and I assumed it was from the frog so I washed my hands and then flushed my eyes with cold water. The pain got considerably more tolerable but it is still irritating.

Anonymous said...

Nice article. Just happened to me. Small frog was inside our patio. I picked up to put outside, and my eyes just started burning severely. I washed out with cool water. Took a while, but burning stopped.

TJ Dodd said...

Happened to me too. Handled a gray here in Iowa. Rubbed my eyes a few hours later. Soon after it felt like I got shot in the face with pepper spray mace. Flushed my eyes with water, took a good 10 minutes for the burning to start to subside.

Tricia said...

Yep just happened to my 7 year old! Thanks for sharing!

Frank said...

Had one sitting in the drinking cup in our bathroom. Put it outside on a tree. My eyes did not burn.

Rick Farrar said...

Thanks! Just happened to me, but from a narrowmouth toad. Glad to know I won't lose the eye. :-)

Unknown said...

Thank you so much that just happend to me my eyes are still irritated but the are getting better won't do that again next time I will wash my hands after I catch one!

Warden64 said...

I was just handling one and he went from wet to progressively more sticky.. Until I noticed he was actually jumping ON to me, and not away. He even jumped and clung to my phone while I was attempting to take a picture. Needless to say I am glad I washed my hands immediately after and will now be rinsing off my phone.

Warden64 said...

But he was so darn cute!! It was a completely different sensation holding a gray tree frog as opposed to a normal green frog or a toad. He seemed a bit more clumsy and less afraid than most frogs I have handled.