Tadpoles to Froglets: Headstarting Mountain Yellow-Legged Frogs

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These young mountain yellow-legged frogs will soon be ready for release into the wild.

These mountain yellow-legged froglets will soon be ready for release into the wild.

There is an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, if it takes a village to rear one Homo sapiens, then it certainly takes a lot of villagers to raise more than 500 mountain yellow-legged frog Rana muscosa tadpoles! In the spring of 2012, four females in our amphibian conservation lab each laid a clutch of eggs. A high level of fertility among the eggs resulted in 500 tadpoles.

Our goal with these animals is to raise them up from the tadpole life stage until metamorphosis. This will give the juvenile frogs a “headstart” that will reduce their vulnerability to predators when they are released into the wild this summer. The upcoming release will be the first time that mountain yellow-legged frogs will have been released into the wild in the frog life stage.

These tadpoles still have some changes to make!

These tadpoles still have some changes to make!

We now have over 300 juvenile froglets housed in our amphibian conservation lab. Housing so many froglets has presented us with many challenges to maintain the excellent environmental and water quality conditions that this sensitive species requires.

Thankfully, we have a great team of researchers and dedicated volunteers here at the San Diego Zoo’s Beckman Center for Conservation Research to help us care for the tadpoles and monitor water-quality levels on a regular basis. San Diego Zoo volunteers are an essential part of ensuring that all our tailed tadpoles can graduate into foraging froglets. With many more tadpoles waiting to undergo metamorphosis, we are looking forward to the day when they have all graduated to the froglet stage so we can release them into the wild.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the San Diego Zoo, check out our volunteer page.

Frank Santana is a research coordinator with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read his previous post, Mountain Yellow-legged Frogs: Life beyond the City.