I was lulled into a false sense of security. The water was clear, the water-weed rampant and visibly bubbling out little streams of oxygen; spare daphnia darted about uneaten, and cannibalism seemed far from my tadpoles’ minds.
I admit, I left them to it for a week. When I next went over to say hello and pour in some Evian, disaster had struck. No longer did they playfully wriggle through their crystal pool like tiny, happy dolphins, bred-in-captivity so knowing nothing better than the joys of mirrors and hand-fed dead fish. They had sunk, listless, to the bottom. Some were unable to swim properly, and instead wriggled along upside down, dejected and confused. My heart in my mouth, I went out for a drink with a friend.
Not just any friend though, oh no. I mentioned my lovely friend Hannah a while ago, when I went riding with her, and she picked me up in her sexy ex-postal van (aaaah, now you remember her). Well Hannah is about to become an actual real vet. After seven years of pushing her hand up animals’ arses, she is very close to being fully qualified. I met her at the Holly Bush in Hampstead, where she had a fancy glass of wine, and I worked my way through a pint of cider. Over a beautiful shared cheese-board, we talked about boys, handbags, the potential terrors of mothers-in-law taking against you, and… my tadpoles. My conundrum puzzled her for all of two minutes, whilst I explained about the Evian, the healthy pond-weed, the daphnia and the lack of direct sunlight. Then I mentioned that Tom had thought the garden compost I had buried beneath flattened beach pebbles for the weed to grow in may have introduced bacteria, and her face assumed the solemn neutrality of someone who has realised they’re addressing a complete idiot. She’s going to be a great vet.
I returned home, and stared at my poor darlings for a while, morose. Then sent Tom (who was out with his manly man-friends) a text asking him to bring me back two 2 litre bottles of Evian so I could “save the tadpoles”. The tadpoles were evacuated into a spare bowl, one at a time, the dratted compost poured down the loo and the bowl thoroughly cleaned. There were a couple of corpses left (well, remnants of – tadpoles seem to take the adage ‘waste not want not’ to heart), but I managed to rescue 15 of what I had originally counted as about 20. Most of them have now recovered their buoyancy and seem less inclined to hide under rocks (if anyone can explain the logic of the cramming themselves under rocks thing I’d be grateful).
I fed them a couple of defrosted peas, which a few have munched their way through. They get a torch flashed at them regularly, to check for death and/or progress, but I think now I’ll have to just see what happens. Any advice is welcome! I obviously haven’t taken any photos of my tadpoles in their current state, because that would be sick, so I thought I’d share a photo of this monster with you. The bullfrog tadpole.
You might also like: