Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Modern Complexities of Nature Study: How to Raise a Tadpole

When I was kid, I remember finding tadpoles in the creek that ran through our backyard and sticking them in an old metal cookie tin with a bit of water and covering it with the lid - then promptly forgetting about the little fellas for like a week and a half.  Checking back on them, the tadpoles had magically transformed into little toadlets.  Ah, the miracle and design of life. :)

 So tell me...why is it that it just doesn't seem to be quite so simple NOW??

I've pondered if it's a matter of the difference between tree frog tadpoles and toad tadpoles. ?  Or maybe that their housing situation involved having 300 plus of them dwelling together in one smallish habitat.

 Perhaps.  But these are the tadpole cards you're dealt when you're plucked from the clutches of certain death - i.e. rescued from a pool cover by a soft hearted and sympathetic 12 year girl.

But it does *seem* far too complicated.  Our little tree frog tadpoles are extremely sensitive to their water temperature, too much sun, not enough sun, too much water, not enough water, water too clean, water too cloudy.  Too many fellow tadpoles and not enough of a varied diet cause them to turn on each other, devouring their brothers and sisters like the ravenous little cannibalistic monsters that they are.  Side note: we no longer have 300. :(

And there I am...changing their water every other day, delicately straining them out of the old and gently transferring them to the new. I even go so far as to warm up a cup or two of ice cold hose water on the stove so as to not shock their delicate little bodies.

And food???  Oy.  Besides each other, they are provided with a rich and varied diet of bacon (they prefer cooked to raw), turkey lunch meat, cantaloupe, banana, boiled lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, plenty of algae, and the yum of all yums...freeze dried blood worms.  (I'm pretty sure they're also eating all the water snail egg case jellies, since those keep mysteriously "disappearing" off the sides of the container and off the algae covered rocks in the habitat.)

I don't remember things being this complicated when I was a kid, but the fruits of my and the kids' labor is finally paying off.  We have a good ten tree frog tadpoles with an awkward combination of back and front legs!  We've also had a handful of little tree froglets whose body shapes have changed and their color shifted from a dirty, greenish brown to a very bright and pretty green - one of these we've already released into the garden by our mini-pond area and two apparently crawled up the sides of the habitat to glorious froggy freedom during the night.  Godspeed, little froglets.

3 down!  Only 50 or so more to go. *sigh*

This post shared at Fisher Academy's Nature Study Monday linkup!