Posted Feb 09, 2014
We live in Central Florida. We are a family of mom, dad and four boys. How could frogs NOT figure into our lives? After a particularly wet tropical storm, we found a puddle in our back yard loaded with tadpoles. For years, we had been pondering the tree frogs out back that once in full-squawk, sounded like a brace of ducks! We scooped up the tadpoles and headed to Google to figure out what to do with them.
It was fairly easy to set them up in a long, tall tupperware container. The boys added a large rock that stuck up above the water and a few ferns that took root right away.
The tadpoles grew and it was absolutely fascinating to watch their tails shrink and their legs grow. The strongest began to climb and we added a piece of mesh screen over their tank so none would hop out to their demise. All was going according to the book on frogs we rented from the library when we were struck with yet another tropical storm. Ahhhh . . . the benefits of reading ahead!
My sons, then 5, 11, 11 and 12 scooped up more tadpoles and dumped them in with our, by-now, near-frogs! Did you know frogs have teeth of a sort? Did you know frogs can be cannibalistic? We did not know this either. In the words of the great Les Nessman (WKRP) "Oh the humanity!" This was a major mistake. Fortunately we were home and able to scoop out most of the baby tadpoles and end the carnage.
All told, we finished this saga with 12 beautiful, healthy tree frogs. (We decided to ignore their tendencies to eat their own.) After about four months, total, we released the frogs and they and their progeny serenade us most nights with their duck-like symphony.
After further research I learned that frogs will eat their young. This might not be a project for a sensitive child or for a child under 7-8-ish. There are many things parents can explain away, eating your young is a bit tricky. Additionally, lower elementary school children often have more of a problem releasing "pets" into the wild.
I don't consider our expedition into frog-life a pet experience. It's most definitely a one-sided venture. You give, the frogs don't. But, watching the transformation from tadpole to frog is an adventure you should take with your kids if you can.