Last spring, a waitress at a small local restaurant (where my kids have breakfast with my father-in-law each Tuesday morning) gave us 6 tadpoles from the cover of her swimming pool. We learned all we could about raising tadpoles, put them all in a little tank, and watched them swim around and grow legs. The whole process was surprisingly quick (as all of us with little ones of our own know well), and before we knew it, the first frog had back legs and escaped the tank through a little hole we meant to close up. Yikes! We looked and looked and looked for him. But he was only this big:
So we didn't find him. (This is one of his brothers. Or sisters. We didn't learn that much about them...) Feeling like horrible frog parents, we patched the hole, and waited for the other ones to grow up. One by one they did. As they grew, we found out they were Gray Tree Frogs (there's a link on that site where you can listen to their call). And realized that there were Gray Tree Frogs already living in the pond across the street.
One by one, we released them in the pond across the street.
Unfortunately, we only successfully released 3 of the 6. Despite our efforts, two of the little guys did not make it to get their back legs. This was all last June. Every once in a while through the summer and fall, the kids would scour the house looking for the little lost froggy. But he remained unfound.
That is, until one day in January. I was in our library. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move on the floor. I looked. But I was right in front of the craft shelf - which has a way of spontaneously spilling out onto the floor in front of it. I looked and saw nothing but craft supplies all over the floor. So, I went back to what I was doing. Again, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Thinking that I was going crazy seeing crafty type things moving across the floor by themselves, I had a closer look. And I realized it was a frog!!! Our little frog that escaped it's makeshift temporary home back in June, six whole months before. Only he was no longer little! A frog! In my house! On the floor. Loose...
With the help of Munch, we quickly caught him and put him in the container he had escaped from until we had time to make him a more proper home. You see, it was the middle of January in Northeast Ohio. There was snow on the ground. Totally inappropriate weather for a frog. We fashioned him a new little home out of an old and cracked fish tank, some coir fiber I was planning to use to make my own seed starting mix, some logs, a plant, a little dish with water, a little light on top to generate some heat, and his very own fruit fly factory. Yeah, we set up a little fruit fly breeding ground - a little cup with a rotten banana and a lid only partly covering it. Yup. We bred fruit flies for our little frog. We spend 11 out of the 12 months setting vinegar traps to get rid of the buggers, and we actually set something up to BREED them! But, I digress...
See how much bigger he got!?! We apparently have enough itty bitty creatures in our house to support at least one amphibian for at least 6 months.
We planned on releasing him to join his brothers and sisters in the pond across the street when the weather warmed up sufficiently. We just needed to keep him happy until then. That meant feeding him. Something more than fruit flies. Flip, as we took to calling him, ate crickets and fruit flies (and probably anything else that wandered into his den). After a while, he started calling to us (only the males make noises). Sometimes when I ran the water. Sometimes in answer to the phone ringing. Sometimes just out of the blue. We grew to love him. Every one of us did.
Spring came. The windows were open more and more. The sounds of the evening carried through them, and Flip heard his frog family outside. One day, he tried to answer back, ever so very tentatively... "Uuhhh, h-h-hello?" It was time to release him.
We were all both sad and excited.
Everyone (almost) tried to hold him to say goodbye.
But, Flip was ready to be on his way.
We took him to the pond. And set him down. And let him go.
Can you spot him?
There he is!
Flip is out. And sometimes, I like to imagine that it is his little voice I can hear singing along with all the rest. I hope you're doing alright out there little guy!!!!