In Praise of Pollywogs

To be at peace on Sunday, on a summer’s day with cicadas singing on the trees, not to be picking a fight with anyone–yes, this is good. Thank you, Lord.

Hi, Mr. Nature here. If I can find a video that works, we can look at pollywogs today. The word is derived from Ancient Hittite roots, polly + wog=pollywog. Some prefer the more Anglo-Saxon “tadpole.” I have no idea what either “polly” or “wog” means. I don’t speak Hittite.

A frog or a toad is a tailless, four-legged animal that can live on land as well as water. All frogs and toads eat worms or insects; they are carnivorous.

All frogs and toads start out as a jellied mass of eggs which hatch into tiny black shapeless thingies that soon grow into legless, tailed tadpoles that eat algae and other plant matter in the water. By and by, the back legs grow out, just next to the tail, and then the two front legs, usually the right one first. After the pollywog has all four legs, it has to stop eating because its mouth parts are changing into a frog’s or toad’s mouth parts, with teeth. Bit by bit the tail shrinks until it’s gone: that’s how the pollywog nourishes itself while it can’t eat.

And voila, there you have it–perfect, tiny little frogs or toads. As a kid, I once started with the eggs and got all the way to a swarm of teeny toads, each smaller than a dime. I had to let them go, no way I knew how to take care of them. My mother was less than enthusiastic about my bringing a hundred toads into the house.

One thing about tadpoles–as long as the water contains some nice green algae, and doesn’t get contaminated with chemicals, they take care of themselves. Just keep the cat away.

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