Friday, January 1, 2010

The X-Frogs-Chapters 1-3

The X-Frogs-Chapter 1

It was a cool Saturday morning in September when Professor Robert Briggs asked his twins what they wanted for their birthday.

Bobby replied "I want one of these really cool frogs who get really big and live in the water!"

Sally exclaimed, "I want one of those frogs too!"

"Are you sure you'll take care of the frogs if I gave them to you?" asked the professor.

Both children replied, "We will!"

Sally added, "I will feed them very well. I love to watch them eat like little piggies."

"Be careful not to feed them too much," said their father. "It's better to give them too little than too much! Otherwise you'd be polluting the water with extra food and frog poop. Did you ask your mother yet if you may have these frogs?"

Their mother walked into the living room as they were talking. When she put the cookies in the oven, she overheard the conversation there.

"Honey," she asked. "Can't you leave those slimy creatures at the lab where they belong?"

"Dorothy," replied the professor. "These are called African clawed frogs and you can find them in pet stores. Some of the kids' friends have them already. They only grow to be about six inches long and don't scratch the furniture or 'mess' on the carpet like other pets."

"But we have a dog and a cat," replied his wife. "How would having these frogs in the house keep Ralphie and Tiger from ruining the furniture and the couch?"

"They won't be able to make the cat and dog behave," replied the professor, "But it would be good for the kids to observe other kinds of life besides dogs and cats."

"Can't they go to the zoo and see different kinds of animals?" asked Mrs. Briggs. "At least you don't have to bring them home with you."

"But having these frogs will help teach them responsibility," replied the father. "And they have shown some by helping us take care of the pets we already have. I think we can trust them with a couple six inch frogs in an aquarium. Beside that we can't afford to send the kids to the zoo everyday."

"Okay," said the twins' mother, "but the kids have to take care of them because they're their pets and birthday presents not mine. I already walk the dog and change the litter box."

So the professor and the kids set up a fish tank they had been keeping in the basement since the oscar died. It was a long thirty gallon tank which would be perfect for two frogs who will grow to be six inches long not counting their legs. They put a filter that was designed to handle a forty gallon tank on it.

After all, the oscar was a big fish who needed a very good filter on his tank. The frogs will need a very good filter as well-especially when they get big.

The professor knew he needed something to treat the water with so it would be all ready for the frogs when they came home. The water could be allowed to sit for 48 hours to get the chlorine out and a small fish could be placed in the tank for a day or two to "break-in" the tank-a process called "cycling."

But the kids' birthday was that following Monday and they were very anxious to see their new pets.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The X-Frogs-Chapter 2

When Professor Briggs, Bobby, and Sally were done setting up the tank, they left to get the frogs.

Since the professor was the boss, being the Dean of the Biology department at St. Luke's University, where he taught premedical students, he didn't have to ask for permission to get the frogs. There were plenty of them in the lab waiting to be dissected by his students. At least two frogs get to go home with the professor to be cherished as pets. This sure beat being slaughtered to be used by the students.

The professor took a gallon jar out of the cupboard, filled it almost half full of fresh water, and put something in it to treat the water. And he put some of the water from the frogs' tank into the jar.

Then the professor said, "Kids, you may each pick out a frog and I'll catch it for you."

Sally saw one that she thought was really cool. Unlike the ones she saw at the pet stores and in her friends' homes, it had five toes on each front foot or "hand" instead of just four, and each foot had six toes instead of five. And the extra digit was like our thumb. Most of these frogs do not have opposible thumbs like us humans, but the one she chose did.

"Dad, I want this one!" she exclaimed. "The one with the six toes!"

Professor Brigs netted the unusual frog and put it in the jar.

Bobby saw another one like the one Sally had seen and pointed at it. He told his father, "I want this one!"

So the professor netted the second frog and put it in the jar too.

The kids and their father studied the frogs' unusual feet with the extra toes. Most African clawed frogs have webbed feet like ducks. These frogs had five toes webbed together like those of most of the clawed frogs. But the other toe was separate from the webbing. The typical frog had claws on three of their five toes and two without. These frogs had four claws on each foot-including those on the extra toe.

No wonder Bobby and Sally wanted these frogs-they were different!

The frogs were only about an inch long-not counting their legs. But they grew quickly!

The professor asked the children for a volunteer to hold the jar until they got home. Sally placed the jar between her knees and watched the frogs as her father took them home. She was a girl, but she wasn't above being around frogs. In fact, her classmates called her the "Frog Lady."

This is a fantastic story!!!
adeodatus said...
Thanks for the compliment, Xenopus! I plan on getting back to writing this story soon. I wrote a 5th chapter in a notebook, misplaced it for a number of months-and found-so keep your eyeballs peeled!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The X-Frogs-Chapter 3

The professor told the children they could name the frogs anything they wanted. They wanted to give them exotic names. So they tried to think of some and Bobby noticed a book that had a Greek name on the cover of it. It was called Sophocles The Complete Plays which was translated by Paul Roche.*

"Dad," asked the child as he pointed at the book. "May I see this book please?"

"Son, I didn't start reading this book until I was in high school. It may be a little hard for you."

"That's ok," Bobby said. "It may be a hard book, but it may have some unusual froggy names in it."

Bobby removed the book from the shelf and started thumbing through it. His father thought he and Sally were both smart for their age. But the professor thought the book might be a little tough for them at age twelve. This is how old they were going to turn in just a few days.

He found an interesting name for a female character in the play Oedipus the King-Jocasta! It sounded kind of Italian or Mexican to him. He named his frog Jocasta after the woman.

Sally looked at the same play when she saw the name of the woman's husband at the beginning of the play-Laertes. She decided to give that name to her frog.

Laertes then gave Jocasta kind of a froggy hug and she started laying eggs.

The children asked if they could keep one of the tadpoles after they hatched.

The professor answered, "I don't see why not." He went to the basement and returned with a five gallon tank they used to keep Aurora, their goldfish, in until she died last year.

Even though it was cleaned after the fish's passing, the professor wiped it out with a wet paper towel. He set up the tank for the tadpole.

He said to the children, "We need to keep the tadpole in another tank so the bigger frogs can't eat it."

"You mean these frogs eat their own babies?" asked Sally. I didn't know they were that mean. I just thought they had bad table manners."

"They're not mean animals," replied the professor, "But they will eat whatever they can put in their mouths-even if it's another African clawed frog. So we have to give it its own tank for a while."

Then the professor filled the five gallon tank a little more than half-full of tap water and added some stuff to the water to make it safe for the tadpole like he did for the bigger frogs. He then plugged in the filter and said to the kids, "Now we need to let this run for a couple days."

*Poet and translator who wrote The Bible's Greatest Stories and translated Euripides: Ten Plays (Signet Classic), The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles (Meridian), and The Orestes Plays of Aeschylus (Meridian.)

This book was published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. 375 Hudson St. New York, NY 10014

Library of Congress Catalog Number: 00-046 978

Printed in the United States of America

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