Frogs Cause Warts and How to Protect Yourself

The informant is my father, John Michael Rayburn, born in 1957 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He spent his childhood in Dell City, a suburb to Oklahoma City, before graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in business. His parents are both from Arkansas.

In this piece, my dad talks to me about the belief that frogs are the cause of warts, and what he would do to protect himself from getting warts.

D: When I was about ten years old I heard from friends and cousins that if you get frog ‘pee’ on your hands it will cause warts. I didn’t know what warts were, but I knew I didn’t want them. So, I would sneak into the kitchen and put on my Mom’s latex gloves she wore when washin’ the dishes.

M: Did you really?

D: Yeah, I thought putting on protection would stop me from getting the warts. I always practiced safe frog handling.

[I laugh at this]

M: Or you could just not go and catch frogs.

D: It was the 60’s. There was nothing else to do.

M: So did the gloves help?

D: Well, I remember it was one night on the weekend and I noticed a bump on one of my fingers. So, I went to my Mom  and asked what the bump was and she told me it was a wart. I was scared and told her I was always careful to put on her Latex gloves before I handled frogs from the creek.

M: Oh my God.

D: I know, for some reason she was horrified that I had used her Latex gloves to handle frogs from the creek and promptly went in to dispose of the gloves.  She then informed me it was a myth that frog pee causes warts and that her latex gloves were to only be worn when washin’ dishes.

M: I actually didn’t know that — I always thought that was true though. That frogs give you warts.

D: Nope. Not according to Grandma Rayburn.

I think this piece is really great, because it’s exactly what folklore is: information shared between others. My dad had no insight into what actually caused warts, but totally believed in what his cousins and friends said because he trusted them. I even learned something through this story. I think my dad likes this story because of how funny it is. Imagining my dad as a ten year old running around catching frogs with those big yellow latex gloves on is really funny to me. He  a bit naive, but that’s kind of what being young is about.