Kermit’s got a nasty secret.
If you imagine an “invader” in the literal sense, the “sacking cities, scorched-and-salted-earth” sense, I’d propose to you that in all the Animal Kingdom, it’s the American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) that best fits the bill.
Those of you familiar with the characiacture of a bullfrog sitting on a log, picking flies from the air with its elastic tongue, are probably asking how this can be true.
Well, it turns out bullfrogs have an appetite for more than just flies.
Outside of cartoons and '90s Budweiser commercials, bullfrogs are opportunistic, aggressive hunters with voracious appetites. In areas where they’ve been introduced, necropsies to examine stomach contents have turned up birds, rats, snakes, lizards, turtles, fish, other frogs, and - with a disturbing degree of frequency - body parts of other bullfrogs.
If fact, some ecologists have ventured to say that, even if they were completely deprived of other food sources, a population of adult bullfrogs could sustain itself exclusively from eating its own offspring.
So, we've got heartless amphibian cannibals marching their way across the continent while consuming their own young. Pretty bad, ya?
Well, it gets a little bit worse.
In almost all the areas its been introduced - which are vast and many - the bullfrog lacks natural predators and their ability to travel long distances and reproduce in great number makes them uniquely suited to conquer new territories.
In a sense, they were made to invade.
Native only to the eastern United States, the American Bullfrog is now established in China, Japan, Brazil, all of western Europe and virtually all of North America.
How, you ask?
In addition to being well suited for travel, bullfrogs received some help in the early- to mid-1900s, when they were introduced to the western states as a food stock to help support the massive westernly migration occurring at the time.
Given its rather unique set of skills, the frogs simply set up shop and never left.
Which, of course, brings us to the one redeeming quality of these heartless pond monsters -they’re surprisingly delicious.
Underneath that slimy, olive hide rests a beautiful white meat, not unlike chicken with a certain aquatic character. Getting to the meat, is no small task, however, with the bullfrog’s skin being pretty tough to remove.
And, as you might guess from their barbarian-esque nature, bullfrogs are incredibly difficult to kill.
If you can stomach the act of pursuing, dispatching and cleaning these creatures, I suggest you give it a whirl.
Just about every creature west of the Rockies will thank you.