Operation: Rescue The Tadpoles

Over the weekend, we had a successful Operation: Rescue The Tadpoles event here at the farm. We have an above-ground pool, and we haven’t had the opportunity until now to open it for the year. However, this gave ample opportunity for the local frog population to stock the water held in the winter cover with their eggs, and thousands of those hatched. The frogs were also finding that slipping beneath the pool cover and into the pool itself made for an exclusive amphibian luxury grotto in which to dwell.

In other words, we had a frog problem in our pool.

Frog Tank
The new Frog Tank

But I have had a friendly relationship with frogs since I was a kid. I used to catch tadpoles that would appear in the pools of stagnant water in the woods behind our house and let them hatch into frogs in buckets, into which I’d put algae-coated rocks to provide them food and a little resting area – especially important as they convert from gills to lungs. I’ve had pet frogs and toads over the years – my favorite were probably the fire-belly toads for whom I’d purchase live crickets and watch them hunt and devour  – it was really quite fascinating.

But I digress.

Our frog problem wasn’t so much a matter of “Oh no, tadpoles and frogs in the pool cover!” It was “I don’t want to kill these babies!”  Once we started pumping off the water, their little bodies were not likely to survive the impeller inside the pump, so we needed to net them out of there, and we needed a place for them to relocate. This set into motion a series of events to make this possible.

You may recall that last weekend, we dug a pond for the ducks. Well, that wasn’t just for their benefit – we needed the 300 gallon stock tank that they had been using prior to getting their lovely new pond, in order to put it to use for these baby frogs. So the stock tank got drained and cleaned, and we moved it into place up under a Maple tree near the pool. They get partial sun, partial shade in this location.

Swimmers!
Swimmers!

I used a fine-mesh net – probably better suited for catching butterflies, but it did the trick – and started pulling them out. We used our spanky new transfer pump and the hose rigs that George configured to move some of the water from the winter pool cover into the pond. (Water from the spigot would have been too much of a shock for them – a lesson hard learned when I was a kid and ended up with a lot of dead tadpoles one sad summer’s day.) It became easier to grab them as the water level lowered and their living space condensed. All told, we must have a couple thousand of these buggers. OK, maybe it’s not that many, but it sure feels like it!

It was really exciting to discover that several of the tadpoles had already started to mature into recognizable frogs! Most still have little tails, or at least, tail nubbins, but we saw almost a dozen of them climbing up the walls of the stock tank last night and one was even starting to practice hunting on some bugs – although these frogs are only about as big as the bugs at this point.

Wee Frog
Wee Frog

Our son, who will be seven next month, shares my excitement for the tadpoles and frogs, and George is converting to the Frog Fan Club, too. We’re looking forward to seeing as many of these babies grow into frogs as possible, and every day we go out and check the tadpole tank to see how they are doing, several times a day. It’s squee-inducing to go out and see the little buggers climbing out onto the walls of the tank and checking out what it’s like to live on land and breathe the air. So cute! I’ll try to keep up with regular photos of our little amphibian friends as they grow and share those on a weekly basis.

Did you know that there are over 3400 species of frogs and toads worldwide? We only have 13 of those in Michigan, but hey, that’s my lucky number!

 

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2 responses to “Operation: Rescue The Tadpoles”

  1. Donald Wilson Avatar
    Donald Wilson

    See… I wouldn’t have thought to use a net. I’d have gotten a big hose and siphoned them from one spot to another!

    1. Trase Avatar
      Trase

      That might have worked too, given the right circumstances! The distance from the pool to the area where we have their new tank was just too far for any of our large diameter hoses to reach. Additionally, the water would have had to travel upward – it is an above ground pool, and you have to drain a good portion of the water out for the winter, so the water level in the pool cover is lower than the sides of the pool. We were also concerned about the force of water going through a hose possibly injuring them. There may have been a way to make it work, but it would have presented another set of challenges. Hopefully next year we will get the pool opened earlier, removing the temptation of the amphibian luxury grotto! Ha! 🙂

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