Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Raising Tadpoles

Our driveway during the spring rains 2009

A few months back, I wrote a blog about the changing night sounds in the desert. I bemoaned the fact that I never heard toads croaking or found them in my garden anymore.

After 3 inches of rain this spring, the toads have returned, at least for a short while. We began hearing croaking at night and it brought such a wave of childhood nostalgia that I began looking for toads. We found them in the borrow pits along the side of the road which were filled with muddy water from all the rain.

Every day, my husband and I would ride our bikes along the road, checking on the tadpoles, but it soon became a race between the diminishing water and the tadpoles' growing independence. It sadly became apparent the water was going to disappear before many of the tadpoles were sufficiently grown.

So my husband and I initiated a rescue operation for the tadpoles. From one of the vanishing pools of water, we filled a cottage cheese container with tadpoles and transported them home. We dumped them into a livestock watering tub we keep filled with water for our water-loving Black Labrador. (He didn't appreciate the tadpoles invading his territory!)

As a child raising tadpoles, I always collected them from moss-filled ponds and just collected moss, water, and tadpoles. The tadpoles fed on the moss and I never worried about feeding them. But this was a new situation as there was no moss - just dirty, brackish water. After doing some research on the Internet, we decided to feed the tadpoles frozen lettuce. The tadpoles burrowed down in the mud at the bottom of the pond during the cool parts of the day and night, but when temperatures soared to 100 degrees, the tadpoles swam to the surface and began chewing on the lettuce enthusiastically.

As the tadpoles developed, we needed to provide a place for them to move to land. Once tadpoles lose their tails, they tire quickly from swimming and need a place to rest close to the surface of the water. So we moved them to a shallow pond and built a mud bank for them.

The new little toads seemed grateful for any debris in the water, using it as rafts. The toads would be in the water for a few days and then disappear, supposedly into my garden. But I haven't seen any sign of them - just the pool slowly emptying of the fascinating little creatures.

So now the nights are quieter again, just a few croaks here and there. But I know there are toads somewhere nearby, even if they are small - and fragile, like our desert.


  1. That's so cool! What a great way to see different life stages of an amphibian.

  2. It can often be such simple acts that help a small population persevere. May they return to rid your garden of pests! Thanks for caring enough to go the extra mile.