Yellow pigment mutation results in rare blue specimen, LSU prof says
Rustin Benoit has only been frogging a few months, but he netted a big bullfrog in Jeff Davis Parish last week that has even long-time froggers shaking their heads.
The 23-year-old from Reeves snared a rare bright blue specimen while he and Zach Elliot were hunting in some ditches alongside crawfish ponds just north of Elton.
“Actually, we didn’t even notice it the night we were hunting,” Benoit said. “We were splitting them up the next morning, and we were like, ‘Oh my God, a blue frog.’ We don’t even know who caught it.
“We use LED headlamps and they shine pretty much blue, so I guess it was hard to tell at night,” he said. “The weird thing about it was that none of it was the right color. Half of it was blue, then it just kind of faded out. But instead of being brown or green, everything was kind of gray.”
Dr. Greg Lutz, aquaculture professor with the LSU Ag Center, said a bullfrog’s normal coloration results from a combination of two pigments.
“As one might expect, the green color comes from a combination of blue and yellow pigments,” Lutz said. “Occasionally, a mutation occurs preventing one of these pigments from being produced. If the yellow pigment is not produced, the result is a bluish-colored animal, and vice versa. A number of blue and yellow bullfrogs have been reported over the years.”
It’s hard to know exactly how rare the blue coloration is, but Benoit said he hasn’t talked to anyone yet who’s seen a blue bullfrog before.
“I’ve talked to people 60 years old who’ve been frogging their whole lives, and they said they’ve never seen one, or even heard of one,” he said.
Benoit’s father-in-law, veteran frogger Wayne Cauthron, just introduced him to the sport in June and showed him the location near Elton where the blue frog was taken early Saturday morning.
“That was my father-in-law’s honey hole,” Benoit said with a grin. “You gotta believe he was a little upset when I caught it there.”
Cauthron said his son-in-law called him later that morning with news about the rare catch.
“I saw the frog after it was frozen,” Cauthron said. “I had never seen one or heard of one. I have a friend in Henderson who’s frogged his whole life and he’s never heard of one either.”
Typically, Benoit skins the frogs and enjoys fried frog legs. But with his father-in-law’s help, the rare blue frog will be preserved for everyone to enjoy for years to come.
“I said, ‘We can’t eat this guy,” Benoit said. “I have to get this one mounted.”