On Sunday, hubby decided that it was a good time to drain our pond and clean out debris that had built up over fall and winter. As he was draining the pond, he noticed what he thought was a frog sitting on one of the ledges. He called Stephen outside to see the critter, and I wandered over to see what all the fuss was about. I told Stephen if he could catch the little guy, he was welcome to bring it inside for a while, at least until dad was done with whatever he needed to do with the pond.
We put him into one of our empty 10 gallon aquariums and added some big rocks to provide a nice spot for him to get out of the water and just hang out. We filled it with a few inches of water and dechlorinated the water. Once the tank was ready, Stephen plopped the guy into the water, and we stood around waiting to see what he would do. He swam a bit and then headed over to the rocks to climb out and chill a while.
Once it looked like he wasn’t going to do anything terribly exciting, Stephen headed over to the computer to research frogs on the internet. He quickly realized that it was in fact a toad, and not a frog. I am a city girl and can easily excuse myself for not knowing the difference between a frog and a toad, but you would think my farm boy husband would have known. <wink> I shall certainly remind him of this the next time he refers to me as an ignorant city girl. LOL
After reading through a few entries that popped up from a Google search, Stephen discovered that toads generally eat all kinds of bugs, worms, and possibly feeder type fish or pinkie mice. (Ick!) We don’t keep pinkie mice in the house, but we do keep decent quantities of feeder fish around for our turtle Raphael, and we keep lots of crickets around for our leopard geckos Felix and Zeus. We figured we’d throw one feeder fish into the tank and a cricket and see if either of those sparked any interest. The toad, who during the course of the afternoon acquired the name Poseidon, completely ignored the fish, and the cricket kept jumping into the water, and I kept thinking it was stupid and was going to drown itself. As it turns out, crickets are perfectly capable of swimming and climbing back onto the rocks to get dry. I don’t remember Disney covering that aspect of crickets in Pinocchio. 🙂
So, Poseidon didn’t eat a darn thing we gave him on Sunday. On Monday morning we headed out to the garden and dug up a few small worms, some ants, and some pill bugs. Stephen does not particularly enjoy touching worms but managed to do it anyway. We turned over the herb garden and found some nice smallish wormies. Little brother Tobin was completely fascinated by the pill bugs, which by the way, I remember calling potato bugs when I was growing up. (But then I am an ignorant city girl…)
Tuesday came and went and the fish was still happily swimming around the tank, the cricket had still managed not to drown itself, and the worms were hanging out underneath the edge of one of the rocks. I have no idea where the ants or pill bugs might have gone. The mesh on the lid of the tank is large enough that it is likely that the ants crawled on out and are plotting to take over my kitchen as I type this.
Wednesday morning came and Stephen was starting to get a little anxious that Poseidon wasn’t eating and that we were in danger of starving the little guy. (We went through this whole same anxiety thing last year when we brought a salamander from the yard into the house for observation. We never could figure out what he liked to eat, so we let him go.) As much as Stephen had been enjoying observing Poseidon, he thought it might be time to let the toad back out into the yard.
I started looking all around the tank, under the rocks and such, and realized that the cricket was definitely gone. I pointed it out to Stephen, so he headed over to our cricket keeper to we could throw a few more into the tank. We had both been hoping that Poseidon would immediately pounce right on the chirping nuisances, er…I mean, crickets, but he just sat there and didn’t even pay any attention to the them. He didn’t even seem to notice when one of them proceeded to sit on his head. Stephen and I both sighed, and I told him we’d give it one more day, and then we’d let him go the next morning.
I suspect that toads don’t need to eat all that often. He probably just wasn’t that hungry. Toads seem to be fairly lazy, so I don’t imagine that they have super fast metabolisms. Stephen wandered off to play on the computer, and I headed back to the kitchen to pack my dinner for work. A little while later, I meandered back to the back bedroom to see if anything had changed in the tank. All but one of the crickets was gone! Poseidon and the last cricket were sharing a rock. I stood there for a moment, and then all of a sudden Jiminy was gone! The toad ate him up, and I got a little chill down my spine watching it because it happened so darned fast.
I called Stephen back into the bedroom and told him to bring more crickets. I told him what I saw, and he was relieved to hear that we were now absolutely sure Poseidon was eating, but I could tell he was bummed that he didn’t get to be the one to witness it. I was bummed for his sake too.
The pond of course isn’t ready to go yet. Weather permitting, Ken hopes to have it ready to go on Friday or Saturday. We’re keeping Poseidon until then. I really hope Stephen gets a chance to see him snacking on a cricket or two before we let him go. He’s already decided that after Poseidon heads back to nature, he’s going to write up a little report describing what he’s learned from our temporary pet.
Part of what I love about homeschooling is how much *I* learn right alongside the kids. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1) Frogs and toads really do look different.
2) Crickets swim.
3) Toads, at least some, co-exist well with goldfish. This is good news for when we add fish to our pond.
4) Toads are actually much more tame than I would have ever guessed. Stephen had no problem catching it in the pond, and the toad does not hop away when he tries to pick him up in the tank. I really thought toads were more jumpy than that.
5) I love homeschooling more and more every day because of these little experiences. We are just finishing up our third year of homeschooling, and I really think that because we do homeschool, that I am much more open to these kinds of little learning experiences that happen spontaneously around the house. A few years ago, I would not have imagined myself the sort of person to bring random wild critters into the house so we could observe them. Something in me has changed…change is good.