Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
A FROG'S LIFE
 CROAK, croak, croak, we hear the frogs in the month of
March. They make a great deal of noise in this month,
because they are just awake from their winter's sleep,
at the bottom of the pond.
The mother frogs are laying their tiny dark eggs in the
water. Each egg is not bigger than a grain of sand. But
it has a coat of jelly, and this jelly swells and
swells in the water, till it is as large as a pea, with
a little black dot in the middle. The jelly lumps all
cling together. You may see them in almost any pond,
driven up to the side by the wind.
Soon the dark speck lengthens. A head grows at one end,
and a tail at the other. The head has a mouth but no
eyes as yet. The tail has a fin all round it, and the
tadpole wriggles about in its slimy bed.
In about a week it wriggles out of the jelly,
 and hangs by its mouth to the weeds (1). Then two
curious tufts grow on each side of its head. It uses
these tufts to breathe, by taking air out of the water.
You can see them if you dip a glass into the pond and
catch a few tadpoles.
By this time the tadpole has let go of the weed and is
swimming about. A sharp beak has grown on to his mouth.
He uses it to tear off pieces of weed to eat. Now he
grows eyes, nose-holes and flat ears. His tufts shrivel
up, and a cover grows over them (2), so that you cannot
see them. They are now like the gills of a fish. He
gulps water in at his mouth and sends it out through
the cover. As it passes, the gills take the air out of
it, and so the tadpole breathes.
Soon two small lumps appear on each side of his body,
behind the cover, just where it joins his tail. They
grow larger and larger, till at last two hind legs come
out. These legs grow very long and strong, and he uses
them to swim. Two front legs are growing as well, but
you cannot see them, because they are under the cover.
In a few days these peep out (3), but they are short
Our tadpole has now four legs and a tail. He has four
toes on the front feet, and five toes on the hind feet,
with a skin between the toes. So his hind legs are
web-footed, and this helps him to swim.
 He comes to the top pf the water much more often than
before, and sends a bubble of air out of his mouth.
What do you think has happened? The gills under his
cover have closed up, and a small air-bag has grown
inside him. So he comes up to breathe in the air
through his mouth, instead of taking it out of the
water through his gills.
Now he likes to jump on a piece of weed and sit in the
shade. He does not want his tail any longer, for he can
swim quite well with his legs. So his tail is slowly
sucked in to feed his body.
There you have your little frog (4). If you look
through the web of his foot at the sun, you will see
that he has red blood now. But it is not warm blood
like ours. He is always cold and clammy because his
blood moves slowly.
He has a number of teeth in the top of his mouth, and
such a curious tongue. It is tied down to the front of
his mouth, and the tip, which is very sticky, lies back
down his throat. He does not eat weed now. He feeds on
insects and slugs. He catches them by throwing out his
tongue and drawing it back very quickly.
He lives chiefly on land during the summer if he is not
eaten by ducks, rats, or snakes. Then he drops to the
bottom of the pond to sleep in the mud all winter.
A FROG AND TADPOLES.