Sologne - Radioactive frogs
These pictures of "tailed frogs" were made late July 2007 in our garden in France. These frogs averaged 10-12 cm (4-5") in length, with the longest ones attaining 15 cm.
On the Internet we found that small tailed frogs do exist (Ascaphus Truei) in British Columbia, Canada, and in the North-West of the United States. However, they live near cold mountain rivers and look very different.
After finding newts in this pond just two days earlier, we first thought we were looking at some kind of adult newt but, apart from the tail, newts do look very different and can't possibly be mistaken with frogs. Anyway, after exchanging a few e-mails with more knowledgeable people, we found the culprit - the weather.
April was very sunny and warm, and tadpoles evolved as they normally would at that time of the year. However, the weather suddenly became colder and remained cool and rainy until late July, forcing tadpoles to hide in the silt at the bottom of the pond. This cooling of the weather coincided with the period when they loose their tails and grow legs. This transformation phase was seemingly slowed down until late July, when the weather became warm and sunny again for a couple of days. Meanwhile, in spite of still having their tails, they had grown and almost looked like adult frogs.