My kids say I killed their pet frogs

If you remember from my previous posts, I wrote about our pet tadpole turned frog. Kids named him Ribbit. He didn’t do much except eat and poop, so we had to transfer him to a small filtered tank. It was torturous to keep up with the frequent water changes and all the commotion it created; wet floor, dripping water, too much cleaning up after kids who love to make big messes.

Ribbit adjusted well to his new tank with three new snails: Gooper, Sticky, and Sticko. But the kids were worried that he was lonely. So I ordered a new frog from the same company we got Ribbit as a tadpole.

Our new frog named Rocket

A small white box arrived a few days later; inside it, a skinny pale frog swam around a clear plastic bag. His fast swimming determined his new name: Rocket.

When we put Rocket in the tank, we checked constantly to make sure Ribbit wouldn’t eat his new friend; African Clawed Frog can be aggressive towards each other if there is a big size comparison. Thankfully they were cohabiting peacefully. Rocket must’ve been aware of his smaller stature, because he rarely interfered with Ribbit’s eating.

Deliriously happy
Small, skinny, translucent. Getting Rocket acclimated to the tank’s temperature. The light makes him look like an alien here.

One day Ellis told me that they were best friends now: Ribbit gave piggy-back rides to Rocket.

Ok, so all things were going smoothly.

Rocket exploring his new home

But last week we had a fiasco. It might have been a combination of factors, but the kids are convinced that I killed both frogs from a bad water change.

Thursday night our two amphibians swam erratically and seemed restless. I thought maybe they were excited with the new water change: I couldn’t have been more wrong. The next morning I found Ribbit floating heads up near the filter and Rocket sitting motionless at the bottom of the tank.

I debated a long time deciding if I should add this picture, but I wanted to show how their body swelled. They got bloated in the water. I apologize if this picture upsets you.

Kids still tear up when they are reminded of their pet frogs. Elliot tells me that even though they died, we will always remember them as good frogs to us. Then, he asks me in an exasperated tone why I killed their frogs: couldn’t I have been more careful?; why didn’t I wait longer with the water conditioner?

It’s a difficult life experience to process. The next day we went to PetSmart and got a couple of neon tetra fish named The Speedy Bros. And our neighbor gifted us a tiny snail from her tank: so tiny it doesn’t look real but it zooms all over the tank. It was named Mini-go.

Kids say funny things

Kids give funny replies to everyday questions with their wild imaginations! I hope the following tidbits make you laugh a little this Monday afternoon.

Recent conversation with Ellis as we’re learning about the heart’s function:

Mommy: “Why does a heart beat?”

Ellis: “Because it’s dancing…la…la…la”

Conversation between siblings after Ellis accidentally overturned a can of sugared fruit bites on the table.

Elliot:” E-lllis, why did you do that??”

Ellis: “Oh, sorry.”

Elliot: “Wait.” (as he looks closely at the mess) “Is that sugar?”

Ellis: “Yea, it is.”

Elliot: “Can I have a taste of it?”

This recent conversation occurred while admiring our new 3-gallon aquarium housing 1 African Clawed frog and new Black Racer Nerite snail. Ribbit, a predatorial frog, was surprisingly co-habitating peacefully with its new tank mate. However, one week later Sticky was nowhere to be found.

Mommy: “Oh my gosh, I think Ribbit ate Sticky (new snail).”

Elliot: “What? He did?”

Mommy: “I can’t believe this. He ate his friend! You don’t eat your friend. You can’t eat your friend!! Ribbit, I’m so mad at you!!”

Ellis: “But he was hugging Sticky the other day.”

All of us were sad and disappointed that our frog will consume anything in its path. It will be lonely by itself. But it was hard to fathom how a small frog could eat the snail shell completely.

The next day while cleaning the tank, Elliot spotted Sticky under the sea anemone accessory. He was hiding on the rubbery bottom part of it.

Elliot: “I found him, I found him. He’s under the sea anemone. Ribbit didn’t eat him.”

Ellis: “I want to see. I want to see.”

Elliot: “Mommy, you better apologize to Ribbit. You hurt his feelings.”

Mommy: “I’m sorry.”

Elliot: “Nooooo, say it like you mean it.”

Mommy: lifting the lid and muttering in a solemn voice, “I’m sorry I falsely accused you of eating Sticky.”

Elliot: “Okay, that’s better.”

This conversation happened 2 years ago with Elliot, but I recall my shock clearly.

Mommy: “The letter ‘c’ is for the word cat…kuh…kuh. What sound does ‘c’make?”

Elliot: “Mee—owww.”

Mommy: speechless

Thinking maybe he misundertood me, I asked a similar question.

Mommy: “‘D’ is for dog….d-uh…d-uh. What sound does ‘d’ make?

Elliot: “Ruff ruff.”

Mommy: speechless.

Decided to let it go and continue with learning sounds before asking specific questions. His answers were funny and alarming to me at the same time. Safe to say we laugh about it now.

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Unexpected. This tadpole of ours.

The topic of sharing something “unexpected” fit right into a picture taken 3 weeks ago. Thank you Anne-Christine for hosting this challenge.

An “unexpected” package arrived in the mailbox. It was the size of an upright tissue box and felt like it held nothing but popcorn inside.

I brought the box in and wondered out loud what it could be. My kids immediately dropped what they were doing and asked, “Is it a package for me?”

The package held a clear cube-shaped box with a plastic bag of water in it. This was our mail-order tadpole for our homeschooling science study this term.

Our new tadpole

This tadpole was specifically bred in a Florida laboratory, and it has special characteristics: its tadpole body is transparent; and when it becomes a frog, it will live entirely in water and only surface to breathe. This specific breed is called Pipadae found in Africa and South America. The facts sheet clearly explains that these frogs have never been to those places.

Our tadpole may have went through a quicker metamorphosis due to our overzealous attempt to make it happy with natural rain sounds. We learned that tadpoles like the sound of rain, which can be mimicked by slowly pouring spring water into the tank. As I did more research about this, I learned that this sound hastens metamorphosis.

We can’t tell if it’s a boy or a girl yet. If it makes a sound, it’s a boy. If the body size is larger, it’s a female; although I have no basis for comparison. I’ll just have to wait for that sound or lack of it.

And as I was writing this post, I learned something totally unexpected. Pipidae is the family name for the species African Clawed Frog. It is an invasive and very aggressive species that like to eat anything in its path and cannot be released into our local waters. If you can’t care for it anymore, it could be sent back to the supplier or to a pet store for proper…you know….and environmentally friendly farewell. Also, it could live 5-15 years. Gulp. Knowing beforehand that this species cannot be released into the local waters and its long life-span would’ve been helpful information.

You learn something new and unexpected everyday. With all the surprising facts we’re learning, it’s more likely that the kids will remember this frog life-cycle and frog-care study. Also, they enjoy feeding it and interacting with it, but cleaning the tank is mainly my task. .

p.s. I was going to show a picture of Ribbit metamorphosed into a frog, but its water is too cloudy and not camera-ready. I’ll have to take a picture right after replacing the water.