Monday, April 21, 2008

spotted salies and frog guts

Well, we found a treasure on Sunday! I was determined to find frog eggs and set up a life cycle tank for the kids. Since my last pond outing brought me home with some kind of gelatinous goo, not eggs!, I was on some kind of fierce mission. The kids and I walked easily a 1/4 mile of creek. At the last stretch of our hunt, with only M left on the hunt. We hit this weird zone. 
To our pleasure, we discovered a big pond, that we did not know existed. We spied turtles, some weird pair of ducks that we need to identify, a nested Canada goose, egg sacks deeper in the water. We heard a wood frog and a toad calling. We were pleased, to say the least.
 I need to look on the property map to see who owns it. I would like permission to access the area, and take the kids fishing.
It is a hidden gold mine.
Here is where the weirdness comes in to play. 
We found dead toads everywhere in the area where the pond turns into our creek. Some had all their limbs ripped off, some had just their stomachs ripped open. It was easy to show M the difference between a male toad and female. The females were ripe for breeding and had huge egg filled ovaries. It was sad, but great to see the insides. 
We found this male toad with all his organs intact and conveniently opened up for us to see. I took it home to show everyone. K and M were fascinated. E said "GWOSH"(Gross) 
His teeny heart, lungs, liver, gall bladder, stomach were all there. He was minus intestine.
But what annihilated these toads?
We pondered. We saw tracks, that I believe were possum and raccoon. We decided to give google a try and came up with nothing but snakes being a true predator of the toad. The toad secretes a toxic substance through it's skin making it toxic and bitter to most predators. 
So we are stumped. It is a scenario begging for the deer cam.
Don't ya think?
Oh, by the way, I got pictures of a possum eating the cat food. Not very exciting, but something none the less.
Anyway, while poking around out there, I spotted the elusive gelatinous blob. I could see the embryos inside.
I thought they were pickerel frog eggs.
But I was wrong. I found this great resource to help identify eggs that you may find, Robyn's pond.
We are so amazed to say that we found spotted Salamander eggs!
So, we set up our habitat tank with creek water.
We put an egg under the microscope, and checked it out under different magnifications. That wasn't nearly as amusing as the amoeba's we found spiraling and moving like bumper cars.
So much science.
 So many questions, seeking answers.
We'll be busy for a while...-

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