I am not always a good mother. Revision: I am often not a good mother. But if you want to grow something in water, I’m the mom to have. Triops, fish, crustaceans, frogs, snails, seamonkeys, algae—you want it, I’ll help you grow it.
So this week we built a pollywog nursery in the yard and went out pollywog hunting. We made three stops before we finally tracked some down at an old reservoir, and we now have 14 beautiful babies scurrying around under a layer of lacy duckweed.
My children’s first experience with tadpoles ended with me possibly breaking some environmental bio-hazrd laws. It started innocently enough through a grow-a-frog by-mail thing. You get this tiny aqua version of a hamster habitrail called Tube Town, put the ’wogs in, and watch them grow. It was great (for me, the kids got bored after about 42 seconds) to watch them sprout their tiny little legs and arms and turn into itty-bitty frogs. After a week or two I noticed one of the frogs was getting much bigger than the others, then one morning one of the smaller frogs a had vanished and the larger frog had a bit of a pot-belly. A few days later the other small frog was gone, and the lone frog remaining was licking his smug little frog lips. I kept my distance and had the kids feed him after that. He was the kind of frog that had long toenails that you could hear click against the plastic of his aquarium. My daughter enjoyed picking him up and feeling the little claws, but that’s something I really couldn't abide.
One day we realized he could touch all four walls with this arms and legs and the clicking of nails was getting louder as he grew, so we transferred him to the lovely new aquarium chock-full of a variety of interesting fish that my in-laws had given the kids. I think you can see where this is going. The next morning the aquarium was empty, save for the frog, who looked like he could use a cigar and a couple of Tums.
By that time we learned not to put anything in with him. But after the massive fish buffet, he grew really big, really fast. I started to dream about him and those sickening claws tippety-tapping against the glass. I won’t say exactly what we did with him because after looking this species up on the web and reading things like, “when released into the wild they have the capacity to wreck entire ecosystems by eating native wildlife such as fish and turtles that have no natural defense against these creatures,” I’m pleading the fifth.
Lesson learned: no frogs by mail. Now we just get native species and let them do their thing outside the house. Who doesn’t love the sound of (clawless) frogs at dusk?