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Fred & Sal: Vernal Pond Pals

This is the story of two pond friends Freddy and Sal. They were eggs in the same big puddle with hundreds of brothers and sisters and friends. They did fun things together like wiggling around in their jelly eggs side-by-side and even hatching the same day.


Freddy ate little green water plants called algae and he grew wide. Sal ate little, tiny bugs and he grew long. The friends were happy as could be growing wide and growing long, but one day they noticed something was not the same.


Sal had grown his gills on the outside instead of on the inside. Sal said, “Freddy, did you know you are inside out?” “Don’t be silly, Sal! You are the one who is inside out,” Freddy replied. They laughed out loud and continued to be friends.

more mature tadpole
more mature tadpole

As time went on, they noticed more differences. Sal never ate algae; he only ate the bugs that lived in it. Freddy always ate algae. Freddy liked Sal for this because he didn’t have to share as much of the bugs with Sal around.

Finally, after growing wide and growing long, it was leg day.

“Today is the day our legs will bud,” said Freddy. “Yay!” shouted Sal. “I can’t wait!”

Pop pop pop POP! Out popped the beginnings of legs for the friends. Freddy got back legs but Sal got arms! “Wow!” said Freddy. “That is weird! How are you going to swim up to eat the algae growing on the surface with arms?”

Sal thought about it for a minute and replied, “I would rather have arms. It will help me hunt for bugs on the bottom of the puddle instead.” “Oh,” said Freddy. “That make sense! Good for you!” 

more mature tadpole
more mature tadpole

Over the next few days and weeks, Freddy’s legs got long and strong and jumpy, and Sal’s stayed short and got little fingers on them. 

When it was time to get the next set of legs, Freddy got his front legs and Sal got back legs. Now they were alike again: four-legged puddle friends.

The puddle, however, was not the same. It had started to shrink! Freddy and Sal were nervous. They still had gills and still needed water. They were hoping the puddle would wait a little longer before it dried up completely.

creek/stream bank with fallen leaves

Over the next few days, the friends began to get ready for the pond to disappear. They needed to change from gills to lungs so they could breathe the air. Sal’s pretty inside-out gills began to shrink and lungs began to form inside him. He practiced taking gulps of air to get them ready. Freddy began to do the same thing, except his tail was shrinking as his lungs were growing, and he found all this change made him lose his appetite.

more mature tadpole

Soon the two friends were ready to venture onto the land and start their new lives. “Are you coming with me Sal?” asked Freddy. “I am going to hop into the woods and look for some bugs around the leaves and logs.”  “I will crawl out of the pond,” Sal replied, “but I would much rather dig down under a tree and eat worms and live there.”

“OK,” said Freddy. “How about we make an appointment to meet here at this puddle next March so we can keep being friends?”

“Great idea!” said Sal, and they wandered off on their separate ways into the woods to live their lives until next spring when the puddle would be big enough again for them to have a party.

two frogs and a salamander

Do you know why Sal grew looked and acted differently from Freddy?

Although they were both amphibians, Sal was a Salamander and Freddy was a frog! We are all different for a reason; lets be like Freddy and Sal and be good friends!

The end.

Author Tammy Schwab is Fairfax County Park Authority’s education and outreach manager.