Tadpoles, Frogs & Toads
Frogspawn to Tadpoles to Frogs
What is a tadpole/pollywog?
A tadpole is the larval stage of a frog, a toad, a salamander or a
known as a pollywog. In the beginning it breathes
by means of external or internal gills. It has a finlike tail
and lacks front and hind legs. As a tadpole matures,
it metamorphoses by gradually absorbing its tail and then grows its
front and back limbs.
Most tadpoles are herbivorous, subsisting on algae. Tadpoles
change from being vegetarians (plant eaters) to being carnivorous
(meat eaters) once they start to develop their legs. If food is scarce
in a tank the tadpoles and froglets may start eating each other. You
may want to put a bit of cat food or fish food that floats on the
top of the water to be sure they have enough food, but take care
not to over feed to avoid polluting their water.
Where do tadpoles come from?
Frogs return to ponds around February or March (depending on your
weather) to lay their clutch of eggs (frogspawn). Frogspawn
is the eggs that the tadpoles grow inside. After three weeks,
the frogspawn starts to develop into the tadpoles. The tadpoles
are just a tiny black speck in the middle of the frogspawn to
begin with. The tadpoles eat their eggs and wriggle away.
What changes take place?
The female frog begins by laying a clutch of eggs in water. The male frog
sheds yellow semen on the eggs. The tadpoles develop inside the eggs. Then
we have the embryonic stage (where the eggs hatch - becomes a tadpole). During
the metamorphosis, the tadpole tail becomes absorbed into the tadpoles body and
it grows two pairs of legs. Their gills are then absorbed as the gill slits
close and their lungs develop. Their skin becomes thicker, eyelids, a tongue
and internal organs grow as well as some bones and teeth.
Where can you find tadpoles?
You can find tadpole in ponds. If you decided to take tadpoles
from a pond, only take a few as this will insure that there will
be tadpoles and frogs in this pond for the future. Also, by taking
only a few tadpoles they will not be over crowed and they will have
a better chance of surviving .
Containers for keeping tadpoles
Find a container that is appropriate for keeping tadpoles. The
container should not be too deep (at least 6 inches in depth). Make
sure that the container size gives the tadpoles enough room to swim
around and to grow in their size. Be sure not to over-crowd their
home. As the tadpoles metamorphosis (change) into frogs they will
need to be able to jump out of their container (home). To help achieve
this you will need to place a big rock of an object that reaches
above the water where they can jump over the side of the container
or make a ramp from the bottom of the water to the side of their
Clean water for the tadpoles
Is tap water safe to use if you do not have access to pond
or stream water?
Be sure to use fresh clean water in the tadpole’s container.
This water should come from a non polluted pond or stream. Be sure
that you Do Not use water straight from a tap as
it contains chemicals that will kill the tadpoles. Also,
keep fresh clean water ready to top up the tadpoles container as
needed. Make a point not to let the tadpoles’ water become
polluted by unwanted food and stale water. Keep their container topped
up with the fresh clean water and remove any food that has not been
In order to use tap water, you will need to put it is an open top
container and leave it to stand in the sunlight for around five to
seven days. This allows the harmful chemicals to be removed from
What should I use to feed the tadpoles?
When you collect your pond water or stream water be sure to gather
some of the pond weed; as plants help to oxygenate the tadpoles’ water.
Most pet shops and fish shops supply tadpole food. If you have trouble
finding tadpole food just purchase the flake goldfish food. The tadpoles
should be fed every day. Remember to feed them enough so that they
get full. Any remaining food should be removed to help keep their
How do tadpoles breathe?
Tadpoles breathe through gills. As they grow their gills start
to shrink and become covered with flaps of skin and then their lung
are formed. During this process the tadpoles swim closer to the surface
of the water so that they can take in air. Once a tadpole
develops its lungs it can then breathe air.
How long does it take for tadpoles to change into froglets?
Depending on the weather and size, it can take one-two days or up
to 10-12 weeks for the tadpoles to metamorphosis into
frogs. If the clutch of eggs are layed in cold water, it could
take longer for the eggs to hatch.
As the tadpoles change into froglets
Put a rock or a climbing object with sloping sides in the tadpoles
container for when they start to change into froglets. This will
help to ensure that the frogs do not drown and also help the frogs
to leave their container/pond and escape to nature. It
is a good idea to let the frog go back to the pond in which you
collected them. Another alternative is to release them to a pond
that has been created.
Do tadpoles eat other tadpoles?
Yes, if you are not feeding your tadpoles enough food or if their
tank is over-crowded they can/will start to eat other tadpoles. Make
sure you are feeding the tadpoles enough food and if they start leaving
any food from their feed remove it so that the water stays clean.
If their container is over-crowded, take half out and start another
container with fresh clean water so that their survival rate will
What do frogs eat?
are meat eaters, they eat bugs and worms. Frogs swallow their food
What predator do frogs and tadpoles have?
Frogs and tadpoles have loads of predator. Here are a few of
their predators; fish spiders, fish (in general), newts, pond snails,
dragonflies, birds (in general), crayfish, snakes, herons. The
types of predators depend on where you live.
Where do frogs disappear to?
Frogs hibernate. By the end of
summer frogs find stones to hind under, dry stone walls and/or
even hibernate in the mud.
What is the difference between frogs and
Live mostly in water
Teeth on top of mouth
Long legs used for jumping
Live mostly on land
Short legs (not huge jumpers)
Frogs have smooth, slimy skin
Frogs have long, webbed hind feet
Frogs have bulging eyes
Frogs have a long, narrow body
Frogs live in moist environments, usually in or near water
Frogs breed in water
Frogs lay their eggs in clusters
Toads have dry, bumpy skin that looks like warts
Toads have different cartilage
in their chest then frogs do
Toads have short hind legs
Toads walk instead of hopping
Toads have stubby bodies
Toads have a Paratoid (poison) gland behind their eyes
Toads lay eggs in long chains
There are even some toads that bear live young.