by Stefan Chiarantano, Sep 7, 2005 | Destinations: Japan / Tokyo

One Sunday morning, as I was walking pass the many rice fields in my neighbourhood on my way to 7/11 to pick up some things, I suddenly heard these gentle water rippling sounds coming from one of the rice fields. Curious, I glanced over and was quite surprised to see that the rice field was full of tadpoles. As I approached nearer, my body cast a shadow over a small section of the rice field, and noticed that some of the tadpoles scattered about. I was transfixed and took a moment to watch them. They ranged in size and some were quite fat. I thought if I were a child, I'd jump in and try to catch a few to take home as a pet.

Did you know that frogs have been around for eons and have developed the ability to adapt to their environment? Here they were breeding in the rice fields of Komagane. I had to find out how and why.

I was surprised to learn that rice fields make an ideal breeding ground for frogs. They are able to hibernate in cavities or burrow in the muddy bottoms of rice fields until the weather warms. Rice fields are flooded just before planting and contain just enough water to support eggs and tadpoles. They do not contain fish and other aquatic animals that would prey on frog eggs and tadpoles. Female frogs lay up to several thousand eggs in a large grey jelly in the water. The eggs hatch in 10 to 20 days into tadpoles. When they hatch, the newborn tadpoles squirm out of this grey jelly. If tadpoles have not completed metamorphosis by the time the rice field dries out, they will die. They usually feed on algae but under certain circumstances they can turn cannibalistic and feed on each other.

Like butterflies, frogs have two life stages, the tadpole and the frog stage. When tadpoles metamorphose into adult frogs, their body structure and breathing organs change. Frogs I re-discovered are so interesting.

In the rice fields where tadpoles become frogs, I contemplate the beauty that nature is.

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