It took two years, but at last here is part II: Return of the Cannibals. Yes, my frogs are cannibals. I once caught a cannibal in the act, froggy froze at my approach but those little legs hanging from his mouth kept wiggling *sob* (sadly I don’t have a photo)
I wondered what would happen when all the tadpoles turned into frogs. Would there be a mass of froglets hopping every which way, with my nasty cats having a feeding frenzy? Not quite, two of the frogs which first metamorphosed became cannibal frogs. Frogs are opportunistic feeders and when a little frog hops by, it makes a tasty treat if you’re bigger. The two cannibal frogs grew fat on their amphibious diet. Until Ayesha the cat caught up with a cannibal. She tried bringing it in the house, I tried taking it from her mouth, but she wouldn’t let go. Distressed frogs make the most awful squeaking sound, sorry froggy. When I saw the cats chase little froglets in the lawn I rescued them, but I’m sure I missed some of that. I didn’t see the other bigger frog again. There were no mature frogs by spring 2011 so it may have been predated.
By winter 2011 no more tadpoles were metamorphosing and the remaining tadpoles were very big. They continued eating the string algae and metamorphosed in spring and summer 2011. There were only about 10 tadpoles and they became froglets over a shorter period than in 2010 so I hoped to see less cannibalism, it wasn’t to be. By winter last year there were only two frogs left, both males. I knew this because they both started calling in the breeding season over spring and summer. They never found a lady love, although they tried to mount (or eat!?) each other, so there were no tadpoles. Maybe next spring, I need to get that string algae down again. Frogs have a particular call they use when one male mounts another and they want to say, “I’m a boy, get off!”  which I have seen and heard in my garden.
Back colour is extremely variable ranging from green with gold mottling (after basking in sunlight) to an almost uniform dark brown (colder conditions) – Frog Watch
For some time I only saw black cannibal frogs and I thought they were stuck with black. But then I saw them basking in the sun, and turning brown and green, so I guess they were cold. I never saw new froglets so dark. I wondered if they had to “learn” to change the colour of their stripes, but it’s more likely little froglets retain their heat better than bigger frogs. The stripes of the froglets allowed them to camouflage expertly. Often I only saw a frog when a noise startled it and it hopped.
The breeding season is over and the frogs have stopped calling. When I see a frog, there’s only ever one, but they are masters of camouflage so there might still be two frogs.
- Myers, Espinosa, Parr, Jones, Hammond & Dewey (2013) Animal Diversity Web: Frog Calls