A couple of our resident frogs got very excited by the rain we had on the night of November 16. We didn’t see them at it but we heard a lot of ecstatic croaking in the night and discovered a large mass of eggs floating in a bucket of rain water next morning.
We were absolutely sure they weren’t toads’ eggs, firstly because toads can’t hop high enough to get into that bucket and secondly because toads’ eggs come in long strings and frogs’ eggs are an amorphous mass.
None of the eggs could have survived without our care so, wanting to do our best to help, we transferred eggs and rainwater to a smaller bucket and waited, only a day or two, for them to hatch. On November 18 we had dozens of minute tadpoles – and no idea how to care for them.
Friends and online resources told us we needed to give them fresh water and keep it aerated, and to feed them weeds and algae at first, then fish food. And that’s basically all we did, with a little help from our friends when we went to Tasmania in December. Our infant mortality was higher than we would have liked, mainly because we were new foster parents, but quite a few made it to maturity.
The developmental sequence is back legs – front legs – lose tail – leave home, but they didn’t all progress through it at the same speed. The first of them grew back legs before they were four weeks old and were ready for the wider world at about six weeks, but the last of them took another month.
The obvious remaining question is, “What are they?” It was impossible to answer before they grew up (tadpoles all look much the same) but the answer is now clear: they are Green Tree Frogs, Ranoidea caerulea.