Frogs are water dwellers, often found living right around the edge of lakes, ponds, and streams. Typically, they spend their larval stage in the water then move to dry land as they mature—but most frogs still spend plenty of time splashing around even when they’re fully grown.
Unlike fish, though, frogs don’t breathe through gills. So even though they can breathe through their skin—and are even capable of holding their breath underwater for anywhere from four to seven hours at a time—they’re still capable of drowning if water gets into their lungs.
This can make man-made swimming pools incredibly dangerous for the adorable, hoppy green friends.
Pools are especially enticing to frogs, since they boast clear, temperate water and tend to be pretty easy to get into. With smooth, slick sides and tricky lips that hang over the edge of the water, though, they aren’t exactly easy for your average frog to get back out of. The ensuing struggle means that if a human doesn’t notice a frog getting into their pool early enough, it can die.
A Maryland-based wildlife biologist, though, hopes that he’s found an easy solution to save some frog lives.
Rich Mason of Crownsville, Maryland invented a tiny floating pool raft that sits on the edge of the water, offering frogs an easy way to climb back out and onto dry land when they’re ready.
Watch this amphibious contraption in action:
His invention, called the FrogLog, is a tiny blue floatation device with a mesh skirt and a sloping mesh ramp that leads out of the water and onto the side of the pool. The mesh skirt provides little holes for the frogs to grip, helping them climb up and onto the raft, while the ramp then helps them easily get up off the floatation’s platform. The entire contraption takes up minimal space but could save the lives of any amphibians that happen to get too curious by the pool’s edge.
Mason first created the device in 2005 to help his friends out after he noticed how dangerous pools were for small animals, but he eventually moved from selling them out of his garage to selling them online.
Over the last 15 years, customers have reported that the float—which can hold animals weighing up to 1 pound (approx. 454 g) without sinking—has rescued everything from squirrels and mice to the intended frogs and even some chipmunks. A handful of owners even pointed out that ducklings had been seen using the logs as a resting place, turning residential swimming pools into ecosystem-friendly spots even when their owners weren’t busy taking a dip.
It may seem like a small thing, but helping to save even a handful of frogs and other little amphibians here and there could make a big difference. The “canary in the coal mine” of climate change, according to scientists, is that frogs are dying out at a massive rate—so being able to save ones that aren’t in any danger from anything other than human interaction will help frogs stay alive a little bit longer.
For such a little product, that’s a big difference to make.