During the volunteer walk this week we stopped for a moment by the pond to search for amphibian eggs. Smallmouth Salamanders lay their eggs as early as February, if there is an early thaw - this year spring came rather late, so they didn't get to the ponds until the first few weeks of March. Western Chorus Frogs and Spring Peepers are early breeders as well - we've been hearing the comb-like trilling of the Chorus Frogs for several weeks now, and the Spring Peepers call mostly during the evening.
Tom N. took a photo of the Chorus Frog Eggs we found attached to a stick in the pond - thanks Tom! Amphibian and reptile eggs in Indiana are protected. It is illegal to remove them from their pond or nest, although after checking with IDNR we were told it was ok to look at them briefly, for educational purposes, as we are doing here.
Smallmouth Salamander Eggs would be similar, but not quite so many and a bit larger. The Chorus Frog eggs will hatch within a few days to a few weeks, depending on the temperatures (with 80 degree days predicted, the eggs will probably develop quickly!). The tiny tadpoles will spend about two months in the pond, feeding on pond scum and algae, before going through metamorphosis and leaving the pond as tiny froglets about the size of your thumbnail. The froglets and adult frogs will spend the rest of year living in the forest, rarely seen by humans, will hibernate under the leaves and in underground burrows made by other animals, to emerge again in the spring and head to the pond to start the cycle all over again!