Season of Spring

Frogspawn, Tadpoles, Frogs & Toads

From 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 newt.  Also 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 container.

Clean water for the tadpoles
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 eaten.

Is tap water safe to use if you do not have access to pond or stream water?
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 the water.

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 water clean.

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 be higher.

What do frogs eat?
Frogs are meat eaters, they eat bugs and worms. Frogs swallow their food whole.

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 toads?

Frogs have:
Slimy skin
Live mostly in water
Teeth on top of mouth
Long legs used for jumping

Toads have:
Bumpy skin
Live mostly on land
No teeth
Short legs (not huge jumpers)

Frog Characteristics

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

Toad Characteristics

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.


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