I just recently went up to my cottage. When I’m up there, I love to look at all the beautiful scenery and see the wildlife. I love fishing, catching toads, saving dragonflies from spider webs, catching turtles, and one of my favorites…bullfrog hunting. I think God created bullfrogs and frogs to be so amazing. Whenever I get a chance to see a frog or bullfrog, I take it. One of my friends says I have what she calls a “frog addiction.” Anyway, last time I was up at my cottage, my dad and I were hunting for bullfrogs in the water. We go to the place with the most muck, because that’s where they like to “hang out.” At first we weren’t having much luck with catching the bullfrogs. We saw some ripples in the water; even though we were almost positive it wasn’t a bullfrog… we were pretty much desperate, so we took our chances and swung the net in where we saw the ripples. I was pretty disappointed when I saw we didn’t get anything. But, just to make sure, me and my dad emptied out the muck onto the seawall and started digging through it. All of a sudden I saw a little, dark gooey thing squiggling around. It was a tadpole! I was so excited; I’d never caught one before. I held it in my hand so my dad could take a picture. Then I let it back into the water because tadpoles breathe through gills and can only be out of water for a very short amount of time. Once they grow up, they develop lungs, so they can breathe out of water.
When I got home, I did a bit of research on tadpoles. Here’s what I found out. They start as a floating clump of frog eggs also known as a spawn. Sometimes, several thousand are laid at once. The egg becomes surrounded with a jellylike covering which protects it. The egg slowly starts to develop. But, only some develop into adults. Ducks, insects, fish, and other creatures in the water eat the eggs.
The egg starts out as a single cell, which splits into two. Then, the two split to make four cells, and so on, making many cells in the egg. Next, the embryo is formed by the mass of cells in the egg. The organs and gills begin to form, and in the meantime, the embryo lives off of its internal yolk which supplies it with nutrients for 21 days. After those 21 days, the embryo leaves its jelly shell and attaches to an underwater plant or weed. Quickly, this becomes a tadpole. Once the tadpoles are big enough, they break free into the water. They start to eat algae. The tadpole lives underwater, and now has a long tail. It’s very vulnerable, and has to rely on its camouflage to protect itself.
After close to five weeks…the tadpole starts to change. It grows hind legs and forelegs. Their lungs develop. Every once and a while they wiggle to the surface to take in some air. Now, they eat plants, decaying animal matter, and sometimes other tadpoles or frog eggs. After a while the tadpole looks more froglike. It sheds its skin and lips. Its mouth get wider, its tail becomes smaller and its legs grow bigger. At this point, the lungs are almost fully functioning. And, finally, after about eleven weeks from when the egg was laid the fully developed frog emerges from the water. Eventually this frog will help in the process of making babies itself. I also found out that although bullfrogs start as tadpoles too, they can take 2 to 3 years before they become adults.
I hope you enjoyed my article. Look for more wildlife stories from my cottage at Kids Corner.