Country Corner – It was a classroom tale which grew legs

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Many people’s only experience of frog tadpoles was at school or even nursery, when frog spawn would be brought into the classroom every spring, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

In the warmth of the room their development would be rapid.

In no time at all the eggs would grow tails and soon eat their way out of their jelly .

It seemed after every weekend break the free swimming tadpoles would have grown.

In no time at all the two tiny bumps would appear, soon to grow into the rear legs.

By now, after only a few weeks of growth, the front legs would appear and the tail would start to shrink.

It would be about now the very first tiny frog would crawl out on to a stone, soon to be followed by more.

Eventually, the purpose of the project had been achieved and the froglets would be returned to the wild.

This shared experience has given many people the impression that frogs eggs grow from spawn to froglets within a couple of months.

In truth and in the wild, that is often far from true.

This photograph of a tadpole with only its back legs showing, was taken in my garden in early January.

I have two ponds, the larger of which has fish so is not suitable for tadpoles.

My smaller pond, however, is overhung by vegetation, making it dark and cold.

Generally, I remove most spawn from my bigger pond for release into the wild, only keeping a small amount, which I place in the tiny dark pond.

This spawn never completes its development in its first summer.

Always the tadpoles will remain tadpoles all winter, only to complete their metamorphosis in the following spring.

So there you go: not everything you learn at school is correct!