By CVC’s Meagan Ruffini, Marketing and Communications Associate
Have you ever come across a strange mass in a wetland or pond and wondered: “What on earth is this!?” We’re here to help you solve the mystery once and for all.
Many amphibians breed in spring and summer and leave behind a strange goo. This goo is actually an egg mass! It’s easy to identify who’s eggs they are once you learn their characteristics.
Frog egg masses are made up of clusters of clear eggs. You can see the embryo of a developing tadpole inside each egg. Eggs protect developing tadpoles from predators and the elements. If you’re a fan of bubble tea, the texture could be compared to a bowl of tapioca balls!
How do you know if you’re looking at frog or toad eggs? Frog egg masses are generally round or oval. Toad egg masses are laid in long strings along plants or on the bottoms of shallow water in ponds. No other amphibian in our watershed produces egg masses in this shape. Sometimes sediment settles on toad egg masses, covering individual eggs making them look like giant worms!
In the Credit River Watershed, mole salamander egg masses are most likely to be confused with frog egg masses.
Similar to frog eggs, each egg in a salamander’s egg mass has an embryo with a developing salamander. However, salamanders eggs have extra protection. The whole egg mass is enveloped in a thick layer of jelly! The outline of individual eggs isn’t very prominent and you can clearly see two distinct layers in egg masses.
Yellow spotted salamander egg masses have a white, cloudy appearance from certain proteins in the jelly layer. In some cases, you can see a greenish colour from green alga. Recent studies show this unique partnership provides additional oxygen and sugar to the developing salamander embryos, while the algae benefit from salamander waste products. Talk about an unlikely duo!
Yellow Spotted Salamander Eggs
Now that you’re equipped with identification knowledge, put your skills to the test! Can you tell them apart?