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Bullfrog tadpoles, known scientifically as Rane Catesbeiana,
are native to eastern North America and can be found as far north as Canada and
as far south as Florida.
Tadpoles are as easy to spot as their much larger parents.
While much larger than tadpoles of other frog species (they range up to a
sizable 15 centimeters in length), they tend to sport the very same coloration
of their parents – skin that is very dark green, almost black to the human eye.
Additionally, Bullfrog tadpoles mature much more slowly than
tadpoles of other species. While the tadpoles of competing species may complete
metamorphosis in as little as just a few short months, Bullfrog tadpoles can remain
in the same state for as long as one to two years before they actually become
The Bullfrog tadpole’s appearance is distinct and one of the
reasons why it is easy to spot (its color is another reason). The tadpole has
an arrowhead-shaped body with a dorsal fin that actually begins behind its
body. And while it is small in size compared to adult Bullfrogs, the Bullfrog
tadpole is actually quite large compared to adult frogs of other species.
Interestingly, while adult Bullfrogs are predatory and
carnivorous and will eat almost anything they can fit into their mouths,
Bullfrog tadpoles are herbivorous and tend to eat little more than algae and
other plant life found in or around water. However, they have also been known
to eat eggs and, on occasion, newly-hatched tadpoles. They also compete for
food and habitat with the tadpoles of other frog species.
Bullfrog tadpoles hatch every month of the year, but they are
especially plentiful during the summer months of June and July. Adult female
Bullfrogs lay as many as 20,000 eggs at one time so that there are always many
tadpoles alive and fighting for survival.
Survival can be difficult. The young tadpole has almost no
real defense against hungry predators. Thousands of eggs never get a chance to
hatch. Thousand more newly-hatched tadpoles fall prey to predators, as well.
However, many tadpoles do survive because nature has given
them two “skills” to use to avoid predators. Tadpoles have a speckled-brown
skin which makes them almost impossible to find when they remain still on a
muddy pond bottom. Moreover, their long tails give them the ability to evade or
escape a predator by swimming rapidly in the water.
Here’s another interesting fact about the Bullfrog tadpole:
it has the ability to re-grow its tail if it loses it to a predator or by some
other means. This is critical to its survival because the long and powerful
tail enables it to swim rapidly and, generally, escape predators.
Finally, once the tadpole matures into an adult Bullfrog, it
will be one of the largest frogs in the world, a carnivorous predator that will
eat just about anything it can fit into its mouth, an aggressive
oxygen-breathing amphibian with remarkable leaping ability that enables it to
catch and consume prey.
And, like all of the other members of the Bullfrog species,
it will live and thrive for as long as 8 to 10 years, depending on climate
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