This past week my kids and I went on a frog hunting adventure. It's the time of year when Kaulquappen, or tadpoles, are happily and excitedly swimming in local ponds. Armed with a couple glass jars, a kids fishing net and water shoes we took off for our local lake.
If your kids enjoy getting their hands dirty, dipping their toes in cool water, and messing around with slimy things, then tadpoles are for them! Immediately after wading into the pond, my kids were super excited to feel these slippery and slimy creatures wiggle around on their feet. They kept asking me to come join them, but I did sit this one out. I stood next to the pond and encouraged them from a close distance. Not only are tadpoles fun to catch, they are really an amazing way for kids (and adults) to witness a remarkable transformation! After catching our tadpoles and setting up their new temporary home, my kids are enjoying checking in on their tadpoles and seeing what they are up to. They are very active little guys and can usually be found swimming around, eating, and are just generally being entertaining. If you plan on talking to them, frogs in Germany say "quak" instead of "ribbit". Generally speaking, animals around the world speak the same language, but these will be German frogs one day, and we can learn their proper German sounds as well.
If you've decided you'd like to take this on, we have a goldmine in our backyard here in Ktown. One of the best places to go tadpole collecting is at the Barenloch Kindsbach. It's really quite famous for it's frog population. Tips like this can be found in The Military Mom's Guide to Kaiserslautern. Along the lake shore, nearest the parking lot, you will find a wealth of tadpoles this time of year. After collecting your tadpoles, take some time to enjoy this beautiful park. There is a swimming area, hiking trails, and a really fun playground with zip line, nest swing, teeter totter, a fun wave slide and more. Talstr. 16, 66862 Kindsbach.
Tips for Happy Healthy Tadpoles
Have your kids catch some tadpoles with a small net, plastic or glass container, or by gently scooping them with their hands. Place them in a container for transporting them home, as well as some pond water and plants. When you get them home, place them in a larger container, in the shade, and add dechlorinated water. Bottled water is great and rainwater is even better.They do like it outside as there will be some bugs and other matter that may drop into their enclosure to eat. You can also feed the tadpoles pieces of boiled romaine lettuce or normal flake fish food. Feed them only a small amount to ensure they don't overeat and die. Feed them too little, and they will start eating each other...which is another lesson the kids might find interesting. Do not feed the tadpole once it has sprouted arms, as at this time it will be using its tail as food. Release the tadpoles back into the pond when they have reached the froglet stage.
The Frog Life cycle!
The frog life cycle is easily navigated with a little observation. See if your kids can figure out where in the cycle your tadpoles are. Egg Stage: The male frog will fertilize the eggs as they are laid. Typically the eggs are laid in masses. Some frogs will move on at this point, but others will remain near the eggs and watch over them. Tadpole Stage: During this stage of life, the tadpole has a tail, mouth and gills. They are really fragile at this point and can easily lose their tail if handled roughly. During this stage of life, they will swim around and feed on algae. This is the best stage to gather the little creatures and setup a home for them to develop. Be sure to get more than one because tadpoles tend to be social creatures and enjoy being in a group. Tadpole with legs: There is a lot of action during this stage! After about 6 to 9 weeks, you will begin to see tiny little legs popping out. They tadpoles will have moved on from simply eating algae to dead insects and plants. At 9 weeks the tadpoles will look like super small frogs, but with long tails. Froglet: At 12 weeks, your tadpole will have transformed to a smaller version of an adult frog. There may be a tiny tail remaining at this point. Frog: By 12-16 weeks, your froglets are now full grown adult frogs and ready to lay their own eggs and start this amazing process again.