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I was asked this question a couple months ago while chatting with some random people and I have been thinking about it as I've watched my first tadpoles come out of water. With all of the changes happening in their bodies over such a short period of time, does it hurt? In other words, is it painful to morph? Am I the only one who thinks about these sorts of things?

I wouldn't have thought so, but I've come to the conclusion that it must be at least somewhat unpleasant. Having "arms" pop out from underneath your skin can't feel that good. I bet there's also some uncomfortableness arising from the transition from gills to lungs. The change from tadpole to frog mouth can't feel good either (I want to relate this in some degree to "teething", but I don't think it's that good of a connection). I also wonder about "growing pains" in people and if there is any froggy sensation analogous to it.

I'm curious to hear some more opinions as well.
 

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One day, they have a little puckered "beak" and the next, they have front legs and a big frog mouth.
I can't help but imagine that the front legs are basically splitting the front of their little faces open as the pop free, thus forming the big mouth opening.
This is certainly one time I would absolutely LOVE to be told I'm full of crap and proven wrong!
 

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Until someone finds that singing frog(and of course it will only sing for that one person), we may never know. I can say that the bullfrog tads I have handled in the past do not show indication of pain if their limbs are touched during development. The dart tads also do not show any kinds of distress during the developement. Normally when any animal is uncomfortable, there are some outward signs of pain. But I may be just blowing smoke, because my frogs have not started talking to me yet.
 

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Dang it! I had that singing frog in my collection but traded him off towards some bennedicta because he was keeping me up at night!
 

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If one looks at the literature on anuran metamorphosis (like in this text Wiley: Amphibian Metamorphosis: From Morphology to Molecular Biology (yes I have a copy)) then we can see that along with the changes, there are cascades of changes in the nerves as well and other sensory organs. While we know that tadpoles secrete alarm pheremones if in pain or distress, we don't see these responses in the tadpoles undergoing metamorphosis (since one effect is to reduce food intake see http://www.mcdb.lsa.umich.edu/labs/denver/files/publications/CBP141381.pdf )... what we do see though is that there is some chemical communication occuring particularly with synchronized metamorphosis (see for example (not free) ingentaconnect Role of Corticosterone in Anuran Metamorphosis and Potential Role...)

For example, in the hobby we describe that the front legs "pop out" which isn't what really happens. Instead, the tissue covering the emerging front legs thins as it undergoes cell death allowing the leg to emerge. The use of the phrase "pop out" implies that the tissue is actually torn which implies pain.

There may be some aches and pains as it undergoes metamorphosis but it doesn't appear to be significant.....

Ed
 
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