Feelin' a tad older?

     Bullfrog males viciously fight for females to breed with from late winter to mid-fall in the southern range of North America and from late spring to mid-summer (rainy season) in the northern range of North America.  Using their unique "jug-o-rum" mating calls, males are able to lure in a female to begin reproduction with.  The males hold on to the females tightly, forcing her to release her eggs on the surface of the water (up to 20,000 at a time!) as the male fertilizes them simultaneously.  The eggs that are laid do not have a shell, so they must keep moist at all times.  This is why aquatic environments are mandatory for successful reproduction.  When the eggs finally hatch after a few days, the young tadpoles that survive are free to swim about the water.  They are completely independent of their parents and require no help with anything.  There is a high mortality among the eggs due to predation, so only a few lucky ones make it to this stage in life.

Image of a young tadpole, credit to Gary Nafis and CaliforniaHerpes.com

    Bullfrog tadpoles can grow anywhere from 10 to 17 cm!  This stage in the bullfrog's life usually lasts 2 to 3 years, much longer than other amphibian species.  These tadpoles are entirely aquatic and have gills and a long tail.  Near the end of their metamorphosis, or their "second life," tadpoles start to lose their tails and grow legs to become a full bullfrog.  During this time, the growing tadpoles also start to develop a digestive system that will accommodate a carnivorous diet, and the loss of their gills is seen.  Once metamorphosis is complete, the new frog will make its way to land and become a mostly terrestrial hunter.  Bullfrogs tend to live about 7 to 9 years total.

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