June 27, 2005


I have very sad news. The tadpoles died. When we got the tadpoles they were just tadpoles and had not begun the metamorphosis yet. Quickly they got rear bumps, then legs, then front bumps, front legs and one had begun to enter the final stages of changing their breathing (gills to lungs and mouth) and the shortening of the tail. It was at this point that we lost them and I believe the fault was my own.

When they enter those final stages of metamorphosis you are supposed to add something for them to climb. We added two stones and a stick from our yard. The next morning we awoke to find them dead. At first I thought maybe the one frog;et could not climb out but then I saw that the other one died as well (even without any front legs) and the water was discolored and had begun to smell. This leads me to conclude that they introduction of the stick and stone changed their environment in a deadly way. Perhaps there were chemicals or residues on them that disrupted the environment.

I felt terrible and prepared for Ciaran’s reaction, which for those of you who know him (in real life and on the pages of this blog) was about what I expected. He was nearly devasted – he cried straight with tears and sobbing and shaking at points for over 30 minutes straight. He was tough to comfort no matter what we tried. Rhiannon and I tried hard to comfort him. Finally after talking to Serona on the phone and getting out his good cry he began to calm down before another round began over the fact that we were not going to bring anymore home. I tried the approach of how much he loves frogs and we need to do what is good for them and they needed to be in their environment, but he was not convinced. Finally promises of a frog hunt with dad and daily visits to the ponds where we could see them settled him down.

I have very mixed feelings about the raising tadpoles from the wild experience. While it was recommended by the area naturalists to do I feel guilty that two tadpoles died in our care. It is especially tough that they were so close to becoming frogs and being released (our intent all along was to release as soon as the metamorphisis was complete) when they died. It was amazing to watch the process and see the bumps form and then turn into limbs. To see how fast they swim and then how they begin to jump. To see their gills and then their mouths forming. As many books as we have ready (and we have ready many) the real life experience was so much more valuable and meaningful to bring it home. It would be tough to see this day to day transformations without having some in captivity. Yet the risk of losing them is there and it was tough on our family. I suppose the best alternative would be to find some real close to your home and visit them daily – scoop some up to examine them closely in a pail and then release them. Yet you truly need to visit almost daily to get the full experience.

Ciaran is doing better – we have visited twice in three days and he was disappointed we did not get there today but we will go back again tomorrow and probably Sunday. I believe the process was valuable for our family and while there was some emotional stress involved overall it was a good experience.


  1. Have you considered purchasing a Grow-a-Frog kit? It comes with everything you need to raise African Water Frogs from the embryo stage. We received our embryoes about 1 1/2 years ago, and we still have 4 frogs swimming in our aquarium.


  2. {{{hugs}}} I wish there was some way to guarantee that something won't happen. It's heartbreaking when something does go wrong.