What Do You Call a Thousand Tadpoles?

Some people call a group of tadpoles a “knot,” while others call them a “cloud,” or a “school.”  We’ve been contemplating this same question here at the Houston toad program, wondering what to call the army (hey, that works!) of Houston toad tadpoles that will emerge from all of the eggs we have released into the wild. To date, the Houston Zoo’s Houston toad program has produced and released around 144,500 of eggs for release into Austin and Bastrop Counties! With less than 300 wild Houston toads remaining in Texas, we hope that this huge release of eggs will help to bolster the wild population and keep this irreplaceable amphibian off the extinction list.

In my last post I mentioned a cool contraption that our partners at Texas State University devised to keep our toad eggs safe while they develop into tadpoles. These predator excluder devices (or simply, egg cages) are placed around the egg strands to keep a host of predators out; including aquatic invertebrates, fish, birds, and even other amphibians. So are these egg cages working? Are our egg strands surviving outside the safety of the zoo in wild ponds?

The answer is yes! Every strand that has been released has successfully hatched and thousands of Houston toad tadpoles are being observed at all of the release sites. Our tadpoles are of course not the only amphibian tadpoles in the ponds, so how do we know that the ones we are seeing are in fact Houston toads? The tadpoles of many species of amphibians actually look very different from one another in both size and coloration. The Houston toad tadpole is typically very dark colored (black in fact), and they prefer to stay in shallow areas near the bottom (unlike the somewhat similar looking Spadefoot toad tadpoles that swim up and down in the water column).

TSU researchers have observed very large Houston toad tadpoles hanging around the egg cages, which mean that they are surviving. This large knot (or cloud, or school, or army) of tadpoles is rivaling the numbers that were observed back in the 1960’s before the number of Houston toads started to precipitously decline.

We are now anxiously awaiting the emergence of thousands of tiny Houston toad metamorphs from the water (surely, this should be called an “army!”) This will be the last time we see our toad babies before they disappear into the surrounding woodlands, and with any luck many of them will return to the ponds to breed early next spring.  Everyone wish this army of tiny toads the best of luck – they are the future of their species!

2 thoughts on “What Do You Call a Thousand Tadpoles?

  1. Dr. Johnson, I am planning a low impact, heavy water conservation, diverse plant guilds, organic farm on 35 acres in Houton toad habitat in Bastrop. I am interested to discuss how we could produce a rich toad population within our organic farming practices.

    Roger Duck

  2. As a contributor to the Houston toad program I am proud of the work I see here. I look forward to continued success. Hats off.

Comments are closed.

Search Blog & Website

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe and receive new blog posts by email.

Houston Zoo Facebook Page

Houston Zoo added 132 new photos to the album: Yellowstone in the Winter.

Here are some great shots of all the fun we had on our winter Yellowstone trip. Take the trip of a lifetime with us! www.houstonzoo.org/experiences/travel-with-the-zoo/
... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago

Here are some great shots of all the fun we had on our winter Yellowstone trip. Take the trip of a lifetime with us! http://www.houstonzoo.org/experiences/travel-with-the-zoo/

Alex Ortiz, Fabiola Martinez Atenco and 161 others like this

View previous comments

Susan Labossiere DraperStunning!

2 days ago

Natalie ThornburghLuis Gonzalez 😍

2 days ago   ·  1

Bill KuhnerLove it, so beautiful.

1 day ago

Kathy Lewis DeeThanks so much for sharing.

1 day ago

Lori CainFabulous photos! I am going on this trip with you one day Renee!

1 day ago

Comment on Facebook

Last night, we had our 500th person to take the pledge to go plastic bag free for 3 months! Seen here with Gonzo247, the artist of the ocean mural, their pledge to go plastic bag free ensures animals like sea turtles who mistake plastic trash in the ocean for food, will be protected. After making the pledge, they were able to put their thumbprint on Gonzo247’s ocean mural, helping to color in the very wildlife they are helping to protect with their action! ... See MoreSee Less

3 days ago

View on Facebook
Animals In Action

Recent Videos