For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been seeing these reclusive amphibians all around the banks of the pond, wherever a patch of sunshine can be found. But it requires some serious searching. Even though the adults can be up to 3 inches long, they’re hard to spot, as they blend in so well with the vegetation.
They’re understandably skittish – after all, they’re a popular food for some birds, mammals and snakes. Their powerful back legs (which are red on the undersides) are great for jumping and for kicking their way quickly to the pond’s muddy bottom, where they can hide from dangers (including pesky human observers).
Red-legged frogs need the still waters of ponds or marshes to breed. Once that deed is done, the adults can enjoy the sunshine on the banks or leave the pond if they prefer. But it’s a different story for their young, who hatch about 40 days later. These tadpoles must then remain immersed for another 80 days as they grow their legs and morph into frogs. That means that unless breeding has occurred earlier than usual, they need water in the pond through most of June.
Our pond usually dwindles to a small puddle by early July, so it’s always a close call for the tadpoles. These days, as climate change brings drier springs and summers to our region, it’s more than ever a race against time for the new generation. Fingers crossed.
You can click on the photos to enlarge them and see the details – click twice if you’d like to see them extra large!