Monday, January 4, 2010

They grow up so fast

On hatching, they were tiny specks clinging to the wall of their tub. We lost count but when there didn't seem to be any more in the spawn-jelly we think we had over sixty - not moving, not eating, just like little sticks. Sometimes, when we peered into the tub casting a shadow, they would dart briefly, but never very far and never of their own accord. We put lots of pondweed in to give them oxygen and fretted about what to feed them.

After several weeks of thawed chopped frozen lettuce (yum) we started feeding them a little bit of plant-based fish food for protein. It must have worked. They became very fat. Now when you looked at them, they would swim about in rapid panic, dive to the bottom of the tub and hide, then totally forget why they were down there and slowly, rather elegantly float to the surface to see if any food had rained down. You could see their little mouths opening and closing as they foraged and see their tiny hearts beating.

Then some grew hind legs. The kids were so excited!

And one day - a froglet. This one objected to being scooped up and hopped onto the tub wall, so it was clearly ready to leave the water. It's hard to see in the first photo, but it still has a tail trailing behind it.

The tail was almost completely absorbed after two days out of the tub.

We fretted some more about what to feed them. The kids and I made a habitat of leaves and mulch and bark hideyholes and caught the tiniest buggy things we could for their food. The froglets didn't seem to take much notice of even the crawliest bugs. I convinced myself the older froglets were getting thin and weak, so we bought a box of small crickets at a pet shop. The crickets hopped about and escaped even more than the frogs, and the frogs were terrified of them. Each time a cricket came near, the froglet would scramble away.

Yesterday Cheekus Weekus helped me release ten metamorphlings at the nursery they came from as spawn. (We checked first that this was OK.) Each one was a tiny, perfect frog with beady little golden eyes. a pretty eye-stripe and greatly varied dorsal stripes or colouration, white belly & throat and sun-sparkled greenbrown skin. We think somewhere between two and five more adventurous siblings got out the night before (my fault, I didn't secure the muslin cover well enough). Luckily they were on top of the dead dishwasher on the front porch so had a good chance of making it to the fishpond. When taken out of their travel box each of the released babies paused on CW's hand - to his great delight, because he hadn't been allowed to handle them - then hopped away into a permanent garden bed next to the water plants section of the nursery. One jump, two jumps and we couldn't see them any more.

Goodbye and good luck...and only another forty-odd to go...

1 comment:

  1. I realise the irony of me commenting on this post, given my screen name, but I had to say that I really enjoyed reading this. Apparently, the world needs lots more frogs.
    What a lovely thing for the kids to experience!