The two-headed eight-legged beasts are back! No, not a mutant arachnid – even with just one head spiders are scary . . . shudder. The creatures of which I speak are amphibians and often appear in our garden pond around this time of year. It seems too chilly yet for them to emerge from their cosy hibernation in the mud and the weather forecast is for a cold snap for a few days so they may well die to regret their enthusiasm.
Nonetheless, they are active once more, though surprisingly quiet. There are variations on the mutation; I have seen amorphous masses with six or seven heads and twenty-four to twenty-eight legs, some of which seem to be in opposition to the majority – that is, upside down.
Later on gelatinous clumps will appear on the pond’s surface, each with a small black inhabitant which, when closely observed, appears to move. Within a few days the jelly-dwellers have grown and soon will have consumed their surroundings. How strange that must be! Imagine eating your own house! Some of it would be so crunchy and difficult to chew and other parts would be decidedly unappetising if not downright disgusting.
So what do these wriggling black commas do when they’ve literally eaten themselves out of house and home? Well, the ones that aren’t immediately gobbled up by other pond residents continue to grow and before long have developed legs. They are undergoing tremendous changes and one day, provided no passing crow or magpie has feasted on them, they will metamorphose from gilled beings to air-breathing animals capable of leaving the water and living on land.
The frogs this year are camera-shy so the photos are of their bolder, older friends and relations from last spring.
Yes, the frogs are alive and busy once more!
Who would not love that happy smiley face?
Late one day this week, when the sun had set and it was cold and dark outside, a large frog was spotted trying to break into our house. He sat next to the patio door, waiting for a foolish human to open it and allow him access. It was as well that he did not succeed for inside were four-legged animals that would have played with him but not known when to stop. Thus his chances of passing on his genes would have been dashed forever.
If you are too cold, little frogs, return to the dusky depths and slimy safety of the bottom of the pond.