Bringing home strays
I am a happily married mom of a 4 Ã?Â½ yr old feisty little man named Robbie. He is an animal lover at heart. He has many fish, two toads, two water frogs, a dog and a cat. Not too mention the stuffed monkey (Little monk) he carries everywhere with him. Well we had a new or should I say a few, new additions to our family last week.
My son and I went out to the back yard to tear down a kiddy pool that was breeding mosquitoes. (No…. not for our pet collection) While I was getting the hose to drain the murky water out of the pool my son started yelling that the pool was filled with frogs. So I went over to check it out. Sure enough it was filled with tadpoles. Hundreds of them. (Now mind you, we haven’t been hanging out in the back yard for some time as we recently took up camping on the weekends).
My son the animal lover decided he wanted to save all of the tadpoles and he proceeded to protest their inevitable demise, for he knew I was determined to drain the pool into the alley. This meant the tadpoles would be without water and they would eventually shrivel up and die. He was tearful in his presentation of why the tadpoles shouldn’t be taken away from their mothers and left to die. I tried explaining the situation with some sugar coating.
“Sweetheart, we can not give a home to all of these tadpoles. We don’t have enough room to keep them all and if we did their moms and dads would miss them. I will let them all go in the canal down the street so they can all live and become frogs.” Proud of myself with what I thought was a good explanation, I went back to putting the hose in the pool.
“But mom, don’t you know that the mommy frogs put their babies in the water to grow then they come back for them, just like you leave me at daycare and come back for me. If you take them to the canal their moms and dads will never find them. WE HAVE TO SAVE THEM!!!” He stood there with his hands on his hips, giving me his best mean look to show me he meant business. So I of course I knew I had to back down on this issue and after 20 minutes of the bantering back and forth we decided to wait for Daddy to get home. We were going to save some of them and have daddy put the rest in the canal so they wouldn’t die. (Which really meant pour them out behind the yard for their earlier mentioned demise.)
Once daddy got home the two of them headed out the back door with a water pitcher and a net to catch the newest additions. We ended up with ten tree frog tadpoles in our spare aquarium. I filled it with some of the murky water, some rocks and a tree branch. I advised Robbie that when they turned to frogs, we would have to let them go in a tree, as I didn’t know what to feed them. He had done a project with tadpoles in his class at daycare so we were all familiar on how to care for tadpoles but not tree frogs. I knew they would be too little to eat the crickets that we fed the fire-belly toads and the fish food would only be good for them while they were tadpoles.
He reluctantly agreed and in the tank they went. Well he was diligent in taking care of them. He checked on them several times a day to see if they had sprouted legs. He fed them fish flakes, which tadpoles love. This went well for the whole week until we went camping for the weekend.
Robbie was scared to leave them alone for the two nights we would be gone so we fed them extra and made sure their water was ok. All was good so away we went. We had the time of our lives and came back Sunday afternoon. The very first thing he did when he got in the door, was to check on his tadpoles. They were still kicking. No legs yet but all still alive and in one piece. Robbie fed them and then so did my husband, Rob.
Later that evening they were fed again and we were getting ready to go to bed when my husband noticed that all of the tadpoles had wiggled (no legs) up on the rock we had in the tank.
“They look dead” Robbie sadly announced.
They were all very still so I touched one with my finger to see if they were alive. Sure enough they were but I couldn’t figure out why they had all wiggled up on the rock out of the water. (They live completely in water till they turn into frogs.)
“Maybe they have full bellies and they are tired. I think they are napping.” Suggested my hubby with as much hopefulness he could produce. Hoping to spark some hope for Robbie. (No one likes to see a heartbroken child)
“Yea Daddy your right. I know when I have a full belly I get sleepy. Maybe we should let them rest.”
Well that sounded like a good explanation to me so we went with that. Off to bed we went. The next morning my son went straight to the tank to check on them. Well it was an awful site. Apparently it was a mass suicide of the tadpoles. There they all lay on the rock, dead.
Panic took over in Robbie and he started to shake the tank in an effort to wake them up. One actually fell back in the water and was still moving a bit. Hope spread across his little face. To our surprise his back legs had come in over night. My son was so excited that they were finally getting their legs; he was jumping up and down singing.
“See mommy they were just getting their legs in. When the others wake up I bet they will have their legs too!”
This was good for me, as now I could let them all go in a tree (he thought the others were still sleeping). The smell from the dead ones was almost unbearable but I didn’t let on to my son that most of them had died and that it was them smelling. He thought the smell was from them using their home as a potty. When my husband got home from work that night we let the tadpoles go in the tree for them to live (rest) happily ever after and my son was none the wiser.
I think we will put a limit on the strays we allow into the house. I couldn’t handle another mass suicide of pets.