Raining Frogs: Myth vs Reality

Rain Frogs - Tree Frog in Rain
Vladimir Turkenich/Shutterstock.com

Written by Katelynn Sobus

Updated: November 3, 2022

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You’ve heard the saying “raining cats and dogs,” but what about “raining frogs?” What does this saying mean, and can it really rain animals from the sky?

No animal can truly rain from the sky in the way rain does, forming into condensation in the clouds and then falling as liquid water. However, storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes can lift frogs into the air and deposit them elsewhere, where they may seem to “rain” from the sky.

This has happened all throughout history, though you and I are unlikely to see it in our lives. It’s not common, but also not unheard of.

Today we’ll talk about the expression “raining frogs,” and about a few times amphibians really did fall from the sky!

Can it Really Rain Frogs?

Frog in the rain

There have long been reports of frogs, fish, and other animals raining from the sky. This does happen in a way—though it’s not technically rain.

Yes, it’s possible for a storm to pick up a group of frogs who are just minding their own business, swooshing them through the air. What goes up must come down, and so the frogs will later fall in another location.

Frogs can travel a tremendous distance in the vortex of a storm such as a waterspout. Waterspouts can move across hundreds of even thousands of miles although the phenomena is extremely rare. Although, it’s more common for frogs to travel only a few miles before they will fall to the ground.

Additionally, there have been reports of objects falling from the sky on many different occasions. For example, people have reported raining squid, worms, and even fish!

Why Does it Sometimes Rain Frogs?

It may be hard to imagine raining frogs without a mental picture of things getting Biblical. So, let’s dig deep into the science of why it is totally possible for it to “rain frogs.”

The answer is simple, whirlwinds vs low-weight animals.

A hurricane or tornado might cause this effect, as the strong winds of these storms can pick up objects and creatures much heavier than frogs.

Tornadic waterspouts are another way that aquatic animals like frogs can “rain” from the sky. These tornadoes come from the sky and form on land but travel into the water, picking up water, debris, and even aquatic life.

Perdue University’s Professor Ernest Agee has seen ponds fully emptied by a tornado, which suggests that creatures within the pond can be picked up as well!

However, “raining” animals is rare and not something you’re not likely to see often, if ever. This is a good thing because the creatures who make it through such an occurrence are likely very confused and stressed. I certainly wouldn’t want to be swept up by a storm like that!

Did Frogs Fall from the Sky in 2005?

In 2005, frogs fell from the sky. They were swept into a waterspout and deposited in Odzaci, Serbia. These frogs didn’t travel very far.

This was just the latest case of frogs falling from the sky. It’s also been reported throughout recent history in the following areas:

  • Kansas City, Kansas -1873
  • Dubuque, Iowa – 1882
  • Calgary, Canada – 1921
  • Croydon, South London – 1998

“Raining frogs” date all the way back to the Romans and maybe even beforehand! The first known event happened in the first century A.D.

Most times, the frogs travel a few miles—but they can be carried up to thousands of miles from home if they’re very unlucky!

The fate of most frogs in these events is unknown. It’s safe to say that many are injured or even killed during the fall, or while being tossed around in the air. Aquatic frogs dropped on land will suffocate, since their gilled bodies can’t take in oxygen through air.

What does “Raining Frogs” Mean?

People may say “raining frogs” to refer to a real event, such as those discussed above. Although the frogs aren’t technically rain, like water is, it’s an understandable way to describe an animal falling from the sky!

Other uses may refer to the bible. In the Book of Exodus, it rained frogs in Egypt. This was a punishment from God for the Egyptians’ sins and is known as the second plague.

Interestingly, Egyptians saw frogs as a symbol of life—both a baby being born into this world and someone dead being welcomed into the next—not as a symbol of uncleanliness or grossness.

In literature, the phrase may be used to foreshadow disaster or as a metaphor for something very unusual.

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About the Author

Katelynn Sobus is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on pets including dogs, cats, and exotics. She has been writing about pet care for over five years. Katelynn currently lives in Michigan with her seven senior rescue cats.

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