frog egg afternoon

I got the idea in my head that Mr. T and I needed to raise tadpoles this summer. It’s something we’ve never done before. I was already thinking about it when Lori of In Heywood’s Meadow wrote about her son finding frogs’ eggs and raising tadpoles. She recommended the book Pets In a Jar: Collecting and Caring for Small Wild Animals by Seymour Simon, which we handily found at our library. Armed with the proper know-how, we set out to a local small pond where I’d years ago seen frog eggs.

tadpoles' pond

We didn’t find any eggs in the first pond, so we moved on to a second, and lo and behold I saw a jelly-like cluster right off. We scooped it into a jar and studied it.

cluster of frog eggs

I’m not entirely sure these are frogs’ eggs. It’s definitely a cluster of some sort of egg. The dark bits you see are actually algae; I don’t see the dark spot in the egg that frogs’ eggs are supposed to have, but perhaps these were freshly laid and the dark area is still quite small.

Mr. T enjoyed the egg cluster, but he was much more interested in the small creature we’d inadvertently captured along with it.

looking at the eggs

We identified it as a backswimmer in our little pond guide.

looking up backswimmers

Mr. T wanted to keep it, until we read that backswimmers like to eat tadpoles.

We brought the cluster home, where we’ll keep our eyes on it and see what happens next. 

Being at the pond with Mr. T was a little bittersweet for me. Call me slow, but I’m finally starting to realize that once kids like my older two reach teenage-hood, they prefer to learn on their own. I’m sure that’s not true of all teens, all the time–but for the most part, my older kids aren’t so interested in exploring parks with me. Can you imagine: thirteen and seventeen-year-olds would rather hang out with friends than go to a park with their mother? Shocking! But Mr. T is still happy to explore ponds with me for an afternoon, to stalk frogs’ eggs, to read field guides. I know these times together are fleeting, so I’m relishing them like the last bites of a pint of ice cream. I’m scraping the bottom of the carton with my spoon, and I’m not going to miss a drop.

I’ll keep you posted on our mystery egg cluster.

10 comments… add one
  • stefaneener Jun 10, 2009 @ 21:15

    Yeah, my oldest will go, but somewhat begrudgingly.

    Keep us posted on the outcome. Great book recommendation. We should go look at our pond here.

  • melissa s. Jun 10, 2009 @ 22:17

    I’m holding my hands over my ears and singing la la la la la. I’m not ready to let my little nature-walk buddies grow up (I did hear the part about the book, though — off to check my library).

    • patricia Jun 10, 2009 @ 22:47

      Oh, I didn’t mean to sound all gloomy and doomy. H will gladly watch films with me and discuss them in great detail, and Lulu will always accompany me to musicals and sing with me to the soundtracks. I suppose nature-trekking just doesn’t hold the same allure for them, so they don’t enjoy it as much as they used to. Who knows–maybe when Mr. T is a teenager he’ll still be walking along a trail with me, chattering all the way.

  • Carrie Jun 14, 2009 @ 23:06

    How fun! Definitely eggs, most likely amphibious…I’m going to guess those are newt eggs. You’ll have to keep us posted.

    The firebelly toads we raise are only about 2 weeks from freshly laid to hatching- so you could have babies to identify pretty soon.

    • patricia Jun 14, 2009 @ 23:46

      Yep, I did a little research and thought that these might be salamander eggs. They get a little squiggle shape inside the egg, rather than the spot you see with frogs. And they take longer to hatch than frogs do, which would make sense because I don’t notice much going on after five days.

      Mr. T has decided that salamanders are cuter than frogs anyway. We’ll keep watching and waiting…

      I should have thought to ask your opinion, Carrie. You know your amphibians!

      • Carrie Jun 15, 2009 @ 14:00

        Ooh! Salamanders. What did you find out? Are they still called tadpoles?Or just juveniles? Do they start with no legs like tadpoles? Will they have feathery gills?

        I hope they are a successful hatch. We would love to see them.

        One year I managed to get Nathan to draw his eggs every day- to record the changes. Then he was drawing his tadpoles too. Of course, that was the year that one of our grown-up toads turned cannibal and ate all the tadpoles…but it was a cool “project” while it lasted.

  • patricia Jun 15, 2009 @ 14:20

    Actually, now I think you were right, Carrie! I think we have newts–which are a type of salamander, a fact I just learned this morning. Mr. T and I did some research. I found a link to a newspaper article on newts, and it says they lay their eggs in a “ping-pong ball-sized cluster”–which is precisely what we have! And just this morning we could see one of them, very tiny, swimming in its clear egg. I’m pretty sure they’re not frogs, since they’re taking longer to develop.

    You have lots of good questions for us. If they are indeed newts, I do know that they start out much like tadpoles, developing legs as they go. I’m not sure that they all have the feathery gills. We’ll keep watching and researching, and we’ll keep you posted. And if things go well, you will definitely have to see them!

  • Kristin Jun 16, 2009 @ 8:43

    It’s so easy to learn and enjoy science with kids, especially when you make it real like you have done with T.

  • Karen Jun 23, 2011 @ 19:34

    Hi Patricia,

    Whatever came of the eggs you and your son found?

    My 5 y/o and a group of curious children found ping pong sized green blobs in a nearby lake and we are trying to identify what we have found.


    • patricia Jun 25, 2011 @ 9:08

      We kept it for about a month, and thought we saw little bits of life in it. Turns out, I think, that we’d found a blob that had already hatched. The little moving things weren’t tadpoles–I think they were just some microscopic life living in the blob.

      We wound up tossing the blob, and getting fire-bellied frog eggs from a friend. They hatched two years ago–all 22 of them. We gave away most, and still have two frogs.

      I’d love to hear what your blob turns out to be! Keep me posted.

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