TikTok’s stunts like ‘army of frogs’ threaten ecosystems

TikTok user @thinfrog has collected handfuls of frog spawn to take home and place in his own backyard pond. ICT Tac

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TikTok has introduced many interesting trends, from cleaning hacks to fashion styles. But a recent maneuver to displace animals, like frogs and ladybugs, and release millions of these creatures into non-native habitats is putting ecosystems at risk.

In early 2022, TikTok user thinfrog began posting videos of frogs at a paddling pool near his home. According to Metro, the user, who claims to be based in the UK, began “rescuing” tadpoles from local ponds that were drying up and moving them to his own garden to create a so-called army of frogs.

“It’s the biggest army of frogs ever, but I kinda regret it now because no one can go into the garden,” thinfrog said in a video. In a since-deleted video, the user also said the frogs started moving around nearby gardens, even prompting a neighbor to move away. He later went on to say that he hoped to build “the greatest army of frogs in history” and “Next year I will create a giant pond for 10 million frogs”.

The frog army hashtag (#frogarmy) on TikTok has millions of views, and users have been recording themselves taking tadpoles or eggs and moving them into pools and ponds since at least 2021.

“Farming so many frogs is definitely not good for the environment,” Dawood Qureshi, a marine biologist and researcher for BBC Wildlife, told Metro. “It can cause an influx of frogs that wouldn’t normally survive in that environment, and it can have adverse effects such as too many predators of various insect species being released without a lot of natural limits, which then decreases the number of insects and in turn can negatively impact important processes such as pollination – a process that ensures food plants grow and thrive.

Meanwhile, this spring, TikTok user arkeslo posted a video claiming he had released over 100 million ladybugs in New York’s Central Park. In other videos, Arkeslo claimed he was prosecuted for the action and fled the United States.

Some users have reported discrepancies in the videos and believe the images may be fake. But both users have received millions of views, which could encourage similar actions by other TikTok users hoping to go viral.

“It makes me cringe,” Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Guardian. “Instead of helping [These TikTok users] actually harm the animals they release and any animals in the environment they release them into – this creates a vector for disease and invasive species.

Human relocation of amphibians has already introduced the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidiswhich has impacted over 500 species of amphibians and may have led to the extinction of around 90 species.

“They do this to get likes or shares,” Curry said. “It’s a popularity stunt that can have extremely negative consequences.”

These stunts may also be illegal, depending on national and state laws. For TikTok users who encounter such videos, they should report them to their local wildlife agencies.

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