Every garden really needs a water source for wildlife – it’s important not just for frogs, but insects, birds and lizards – Happy Earth
A couple of years after putting the pond in my garden there were no frogs in sight, so I got some motorbike frog tadpoles (Litoria moorei) at the end of October last year to move things along.
My friend has frogs hopping here, there and everywhere in her two garden ponds (one with a waterfall!?) but the frogs never had tadpoles. Every spring she would get motorbike frog tadpoles through the Frog Watch tadpole exchange program. Tadpoles shouldn’t be transported far from their parents to limit the spread of disease (chytrid fungus). My friend lives three suburbs from me, the furthest taddies should be transported on the Swan Coastal Plain. (In the Hills they should only be transported two suburbs away.)
This spring her frogs came through and laid eggs that hatched into hundreds of taddies. When she asked me if I wanted any I thought I might get about 4, then I saw how many she had! I got about 40. I thought many wouldn’t survive, but the survival rate was pretty high, like 100% One very hot 37°C day at the start of last November I looked in the pond about midday and couldn’t see any tadpoles. I worried they’d all died in the hot weather but as the day ended taddies came out of hiding to dine. And the very hot summer didn’t bother them because the pond is partly shaded and I topped up the water from the rainwater tank.
The tadpoles kept eating and eating and eating. I had an algae problem last winter. The water was opaque with blanketweed (string algae) taking over. I tried liquid barley straw extract which doesn’t harm wildlife, but it didn’t do much. Luckily tadpoles find algae very tasty and the water became crystal clear, with just patches of green on some underwater surfaces for taddys to chew on. I fed them twice a day with tropical fish food and wondered if they needed more, but they grew well. The tadpole population was a bit large for my 120L pond.
In January taddys started growing legs, lungs and stripes. You can see different age tadpoles at Frog Watch. Next thing you know that wiggly tail is gone and a frog is hopping round the pond – very small hoppity froglets. The tadpoles are quite fat before they metamorphose, then they stop eating and pretty much stop moving too. They use up weight during metamorphosis so the tadpole has a larger body than the froglet they become.
Once a frog, they get back to packing on the weight. Motorbike frogs grow up to 7.5cm (altho mine haven’t) and the male is smaller than the female. New froglets have a body of about 1cm, with longer legs of about 2cm. And they are so cute! Frogs metamorphose every day, but there are still so many taddys. I wondered if there would be a mass metamorphosis and what those killer cats might do. The cats drink from the pond but hadn’t found the frogs to chew on, or even noticed taddys.
Happy Earth has photos of the wildlife in their garden pond in Wollongong and tips on how to make your own garden pond. If you have children or pets you should fence your pond (and there might be council regulations in your area that make fencing mandatory). I fenced my pond to keep out marauding dogs. That marauding Sheeba is no longer with me, but the wonky fence still stands.
- Mitchell, Samille (2008) “Fascinating Frogs” Landscope vol.24, no.1, p.10-15