Can you spot the toad in this photograph? The reason its hard
to find is because he blends into the surroundings,
camouflaged so he won't be detected by predators except the
harmless snooping Wild Zookeeper!! This particular toad was
resting near the back pond. Actually I have a whole
population of toads near that pond. I see them in all the ponds occasionally during
the day but mostly at night. And usually I hear them at night
and once in a while they are so loud they either wake me up or
keep me from falling asleep. Nonetheless, I love to have
them around and I believe that they are an asset to the zoo!
Toads eat insects which is good and they also create a lot of
life in my ponds.
Likewise, can you find the toad in the old bathtub pond in this
photo? He came to visit when I had the water hyacinth in the
pond. The amount of tadpoles they create is amazing! I rarely
don't have any tadpoles in the ponds and I have most
thoroughly enjoyed watching them develop. I often see them
mating in the ponds at night and in the early morning after
sunrise they are still in the water. They seem to be
stuck together for hours and hours. After I see them mating I
always look for the evidence and I always find it!
And this is the
evidence! Toads lay their eggs in a clear mucous sac,
usually a long string like seen in this photo. Sometimes you
find eggs in small clumps of the sac though. I took the
liberty to photograph the sac on the patio table so that it
could be seen better.
This is a close up of the
sac. The eggs look like chocolate chips don't they? They
are oval in shape more than round and are somewhat flat. It is
simply nothing short of amazing that these little specks have
life in them and that the life is awakened within days! After one or two days
you begin to notice that the eggs "twitch." This lasts for
about one or two days and then they actually begin to swim,
their long tails moving wildly, projecting them through the
Here you can see the tadpoles at week 2. They have a clearly
defined body with a tail. There are literally hundreds of them
after hatching. Notice the goldfish in the photo and how
huge they are compared to the tiny tadpoles. I have seen the
tadpoles swim onto the fish and take a ride! The fish don't
seem to mind but they do eat a fair share of the tadpoles when
they begin hatching. After about a week or so I don't see them
eating them much. It does not bother me that they get eaten
because its the natural cycle of nature. It gives food to the
fish and keeps the tadpole population from exploding. Believe
me, they lay so many eggs and so often that they can't
possibly all be sustained. The turtles eat almost all of the
tadpoles so I don't see many of them emerge as toads.
This is a close up of an
approximate two week old tadpole. They are so small and move
so fast that its hard to get a clear image of them but you can
definitely see the body and the tail. As the tadpoles age, the
body shape begins to take on a more toad like appearance.
The photo below is a tadpole at 3 weeks.
At about 3 weeks to a month, you begin to see the two hind
legs forming. Notice in the photos to the right and left
you can see the eyes beginning to form. If you watch
them long enough you'll be impressed with the activity level.
Its almost like they are all swimming to something important
and they are late! Its fun to watch them go all over the pond
and find something to eat. When they all congregate in one
place they "chum" like sharks do at the surface of the water.
At least thats what it reminds me of.
This photo really shows the tadpoles off well don't you think?
The tails are still long but since the legs have emerged the
tails will begin to disappear. As they develop their
oval body shape begins to show that they will one day soon
emerge as full fledged toads.
Finally the tadpoles emerged
from the pond! It took about 4 weeks
but they did it. YEAH! After a thunderstorm I came out and noticed that the tadpoles
were now hopping all over the edge of the pond. Some still had
a part of their tail yet but others did not. Now all of a
sudden I had literally dozens of tiny frogs or toads all over the
place! Several days later I noticed them in every part of the
yard so they had really spread out.