Facts About Tadpoles: Tiny Animals Making Enormous Changes

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A tadpole is a baby frog or toad. Frogs and toads are amphibians. The word amphibian comes from the Greek meaning ‘both lives’. There are 4740 species of frog in the world. Only ninety species are now living in the USA, about 120 species have disappeared since 1980.

Frogs are found on every continent of the world, excepting Antarctica. They are found in all climates but are mostly concentrated in warmer tropical climates. They are an indicative species and provide insight into the health of the eco system.

FACT 1: The female frog lays her eggs in the water. She lays hundreds of eggs, most of which will be nutrition for other species. When the eggs hatch the little tadpole swim out into the water and fend for it. Only a few will survive to become frogs.

FACT 2: Species of frogs and toads that live far away from water skip this larval stage and emerge directly as tiny frogs. They are called direct developers.

FACT 3: Tadpoles are also known as polliwogs. At this aquatic larval stage they have short oval bodies, broad tails, small mouths and external gills. The period of metamorphosis from tadpole to frog varies from 2 weeks to 3 years. The average duration is between one and three months.

FACT 4: Tadpoles are vegetarians feeding mostly on algae. As frogs however their main food will be insects.

FFACT 5: Metamorphosis is gradual. Unlike the dragonfly and butterfly, the stages of metamorphosis are visible. The tadpole first develops forelimbs and hind legs. Next is the resorption of the tail. Next the intestine shortens, the lungs develop and the gills disappear. The tadpole, now a little frog hops onto land to begin a new life.

FACT 6: A large tadpole will become a young green frog. Groups of little black tadpoles swimming about together will become toads.

FACT 7: The bullfrog tadpole is a strong swimmer. It is the only tadpole that can survive the river currents. Other tadpoles live in ponds.

FACT 8: Once a tadpole develops forelimbs and hind legs, it stops eating. The tail is reabsorbed into the body and provides nutrition for further development.

FACT 9: Children are fascinated by tadpoles and many collect them in jars. However for a tadpole to develop into a frog away from its natural environment, great care is needed. Firstly tadpoles cannot survive in chlorinated water. The water must be treated to remove chlorine. They should be kept in a large shallow pan, preferably with a rock in the centre.

FACT 10: Tadpole kept at home need to be fed twice a day. They can be fed fresh mashed, boiled spinach or lettuce. Additional protein can be given in the form of flaked boiled egg yolk. After every feed the pan needs to be cleaned without the use of soap. Once the tadpoles become frogs the stone will prevent them from drowning, as they are no longer able to breathe in water.

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One Response

  1. Sade Bond

    May 10, 2017 7:09 pm

    My daughter got some baby toads from her science teacher n was brought home for a pet she want to see the changes in how they grow they were sent home in a small cup of water n a large cup how do we know when it’s time to change it and put it into a aquarium we can tell the difference because the features are changing n you can see it’s becoming bigger it looks more like a frog if u look closely


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