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They're Gray Tree Frogs!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

When a tadpole is hovering somewhere in the limboland between larva and froglet, it can be hard to tell just what it is. They're pretty nonspecific in color and markings, a little goopy in form. In this photo you can see the protofrog's jaw, this tiny lower mandible where once there was a sucker. He's coming along. He's still highly aquatic, and will drop back down into the water at the slightest inclination, but he's on his way.

At this point I still wasn't sure what I had. It would take some time before the froglets looked anything like adults.

What will you become, little blob?

But one morning I walked out and there was this little fella perched on the rim of his habitat, looking out into the big garden full of insects that he would soon inhabit. And even though he still had a bud of a tail something about the way his fingers wrapped around the rim of the pool said tree frog to me.  Gray tree frog. Whoopee!

The round sticky pads on his toes clinched it for me.

As the froglets got older they colored up a bit, too, some turning green. As I understand it gray tree frogs can change color the way anoles and chameleons can, from green to gray to almost black. Some sources have green being only a juvenile color, with adults ranging from nearly white to nearly black, but I've seen one full-grown individual that was lichen-green.

They have a distinctive slow walk when undisturbed, sort of oozing over the leaves.

Naturally, I became enamored of them.

Wouldn't you?

Once their tails were absorbed, they were ready to go. They dispersed into my nearby flower garden, a mighty jungle for a frog the size of your fingernail. I assumed they'd travel overland in rainy weather to reach larger trees, or perhaps dig in for the fall right in the flowerbed.

Whatever happened to them, they had survived because we'd bothered to save them, and that made us feel good. To think that they'd have dried up to sad black slime in the driveway, when they gave us so much happiness metamorphosing on our doorstep...I don't think I'll ever be able to walk by a drying tadpool again.

  To tell you the truth, I've never been able to do that. But usually I drop them into a larger pool somewhere. This is the first time I've gone so far as to make habitats for them. It was well worth the trouble, heavy coon grates, water changes and all.

 I recommend  getting involved with tadpoles. With caveats, as usual, which I will explain in the next post.


wonderful informative post. I can't wait until spring to look for tadpoles and young frogs in the vernal pools around here.

Hi Julie:

Yes, gray treefrogs can change color. Indeed most of the North American treefrogs and one Australian species I have kept were able to change color to some degree. I had Whites Treefrogs, an Australian species that ranged in color from a brownish purple to turquoise. Most of the color changes I have observed were in response to temperature and light levels, generally having nothing to do with blending with the environment they happened to be on.

Eep, that Natalie post was from me!

After a spring rain, I too found a drying up puddle with tadpoles in it and could not leave them to die. About the same time 2 little Garter snakes discovered the tadpoles. I tried to scare them away but they were persistent—as I was scooping up the tadpoles, they would dash into the puddle and grab some. Finally there were no more tadpoles in the puddle but the snakes kept looking for more. I know one snake gave me the evil eye for taking his/her dinner. I now wish that I kept them instead of putting them in a grassy pond because I will never know what frog they became.

I loved your frog post. I hope I can talk Malheur NWR, where I'll be in the spring, to let me raise some in the visitor center.

I remember trying to raise frogs when I was maybe seven and drowned some of them because I didn't give them a place to get out of the water when they got lungs.

Hopefully, I'll do better now.

I love it when a frog comes together.

I volunteer for the metro park near me. I had the opportunity to work with some children and the tadpoles from the pond. I was amazed at how interested the children were. They wanted to hold them and know where they came from and how they grew legs. Just hundreds of questions. Even the lttle girls dove right in to touch the bugs and frogs. It was exciting for me to watch them.

Cuties, aren't they? Tadpole catching is one of my fondest spring memories.

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