Saturday, May 22, 2010

Water Garden Night Creatures

When people discovered I was building a Water Garden outside my front door, they all said “Don’t do that. You’ll attract snakes.” I just smiled and thought that if I was really lucky, they’d be right. I’ve had several transient snake visitors over the years, but last night I got a picture of one of two Northern Water Snakes that may be taking up permanent residence here. They’re both young and there’s plenty of room here for them to grow.

The Cope’s Gray Treefrogs are back in action. Although he looks like he’s free falling, this guy is actually floating. Treefrogs never appear to be comfortable in the water. When submerged, they squeeze their eyes back into their heads as if water may permanently blind them.

If you like taking pictures of frogs with their throats distended, this is the perfect frog to work with. It gets my vote for cutest frog at Blue Jay Barrens.

When the porch light is on, they’ll sit on the deck waiting for insects to fall within reach. We all walk carefully to avoid stepping on any of the little fellows.

The Water Garden is full of Green Frog tadpoles that will emerge later this summer. The tadpoles balance on the water lily stalks in preparation for a dash to the surface for a gulp of air.

This is what the tadpoles will eventually become. I remove the Green Frogs from the Water Garden when I find them. Green Frogs are effective predators and will eat the smaller frogs. They’re especially effective at cleaning up young frogs that are just transforming to terrestrial form. Since I have tadpoles every year, it’s pretty obvious that I’m not an efficient predator.

Newts are the underwater version of the Green Frog, eating anything they can catch. Frog and salamander tadpole numbers plummet when the newt population grows. I remove newts, but the best I can do is keep the numbers low enough that the other Water Garden inhabitants have a chance to survive. This newt is a female who is carefully placing her eggs on plant stalks growing in one of the submerged pots.


  1. Oh, how delightful! I think the Copes Gray Treefrog is very cute, too! You certainly manage to keep very busy with this property. The responsibities seem endless!! ~karen

  2. Sounds like you need to introduce a higher trophic level predator to the system :)

  3. That tree frog looks like it has had a little to much botox Ha!! :} Enjoy you pond.. it looks quite interesting except for the can have them!!!!

  4. Karen – I’m told that keeping busy is the key to staying out of trouble. If that’s true, I’m not nearly busy enough.

    Ted – Perhaps I need a genetically engineered organism that could be programmed for specific prey. I do have a Great Blue Heron that sometimes comes by and indiscriminately thins out anything it can catch. My problem is that I’m trying to make a permanent water body perform as though it’s a vernal pool.

    grammie g – I love having the snakes around. The only time they cause me a problem is when they unexpectedly interact with guests. I get into trouble because I’m more concerned about the safety of the snake than I am the condition of the guest.