Before long the puddle began to shrink and the tadpoles began crowding together. Soon the surface of the water was in constant motion because there were so many wigglers per square inch. This quickly became a birdy buffet as the starlings could stand on the muddy edge of the puddle and eat their fill without even getting wet. I could take no more, operation tadpole rescue began. With no thought to my interference with nature's balance, I began scooping tadpoles up and putting them in a bucket.
With a hundred or so, one inch long tadpoles in my bucket, I would journey off to some larger body of water and release the little guys. I took some to a run-off pond not far from work, another bunch traveled the 80 miles home with me and were dropped off at the lake outside of town. A few went into fish bowls in the office where a bunch of grown women, some of us grandmothers, rediscovered the fascination of watching tadpoles become something completely different. When they were ready to leave the water we released our little toads outside to repopulate the area around the office.
The error part came in when I decided to drop a dozen or so of them in my little front yard pond. This is just a little 35 gallon, free standing pond with a fall which normally shelters my 4 large Comet goldfish. My largest fish is close to 6 inches long and I suspect
My little Rat Terrier, Scooter was nearly driven mad by the presence of quick, dark shapes at the bottom of the pond. She surely thought they were water mice and her very favorite thing to do it hunt for mice. She would perch on the edge of the pond, watching the swim team. Eventually, she would jump in but of course, since she had no intention of getting wet, she would jump right back out and go to perching again.
In good time the last of the tadpoles turning into a legged amphibian and jumped out of the pond. Scooter gave up looking in the pond and things returned to normal, 4 fish in the pond, no dogs. I thought little more of toads and tadpoles, thinking that was the end of the tadpole saga. Oh, how naive' I was!
A couple weeks ago, after dark, Sassy Sister, a Rat Terrier, of course, was out in the side yard before bedtime. She started barking but instead of stopping after a few barks she barked more and took on a note of hysteria. I went to see what had her so worked up and found her making faces, flapping her tongue and if she could have spit, she would have. All the while she kept running back at little 2 inch toad that had crawled out from under the sidewalk around the house, trying to grab him by a leg. Clearly, she had already tried the full body bite and toads apparently don't taste very good. The toad didn't look good, although there was no blood, he was limp so I tossed him over the fence. He was gone the next day so he must have just been stunned, unless toads play possum.
After the fourth time the dogs found a little toad in the yard, it finally occurred to me, these are probably the former tadpoles that I brought home last year. So far, only that first toad was mouthed, Sassy seemed to learn very quickly that toads are something you don't want to put in your mouth. She does however bark, jump around and paw at the BIG, SCARY things but in each case the toad was fine and I have taken each of them to the garden, outside the fence. I'm hoping they do not insist on returning to the area inside the fence, even though they have a pretty good defense system going.