Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tadpoles To Frogs

Each Spring we collect tadpoles from local places and raise them at home. I like seeing them grow into frogs. It is always fun! When we started it took time to find out how to raise them, how to care for them, what to feed them and how to be successful with them. Friends always ask how to collect, raise, care for tadpoles and frogs and then how to release them. So, I am going to share with you what I have learned.


Where can you find tadpoles?

You can find them in ponds, bogs and retention ponds during the warmer part of Spring. Frogs typically lay their egg mass near pond grass or sticks in the water, something to connect it to. When they hatch the tadpoles go to shallow areas that offer some protection. 

How do you collect tadpoles?

You can collect them with small fish nets with very little holes in the netting, you can collect them with buckets or small containers that are not glass, just to be safe. You will want to scoop gently along the bottom of the water where the tadpoles might be hiding in debris. 

What else should I take when collecting tadpoles?

You should take extra pond water, some duckweed if there is any, maybe a little algae and some dirt or debris from the bottom of the pond. You want this because they will need healthy pond water to start a new habitat at home. Little critters, bugs, plants, dirts, algae, duck week, rocks will all offer a nice home for a tadpole to hide in. 

How do you set up a tadpole habitat at home?

You will want a small fish tank or bigger clear container to create your habitat in. Be sure it doesn't leak! Add your extra pond water to the tank. Then place your stuff you collected from the pond. Be sure to not put in any rocks that might tip or fall on tadpoles when they are hiding under them, you want them to be flat and secure. Then you can add your tadpoles. You don't need a filter, it can be stagnant water - but a filter is also fine if you want it a bit cleaner. 

How do I care for my tadpoles?

Keep extra water in a container on the counter for about 24 hours. The reason for this is the chemicals in the tap water can kill your tadpoles. This time frame allows the chemicals to dissipate and temperature is also at room temperature for your tadpoles. To feed your tadpoles you can use lettuce that has been washed really well in warm water (or gently boiled) and squished up a bit to soften it. You can also use store-bought fish food. Be sure to clean out old lettuce that was not eaten. Also, clean your tank when any gunk starts to build up but don't use chemicals - just wipe out with a towel, but it doesn't need to be super clean.... you are mimicking a pond. Keep some of the gunk. You should add some fresh water every few days from your water you are keeping. 

What will happen to my tadpoles? 

They will slowly start growing in size and appearance, then they will develop tiny back legs then their front legs will start to grow. Their tail will shorten and will shrink. They will get start to get bigger and when they have lost their tail they will look more like a frog. That is because they are a frog. The size and color will also start to change. This can take about 2 1/2 to 3 months or longer depending the species. 

This is a fun video to watch about tadpoles.

What is a good habitat for my new frogs?

If you keep a tank with just water a frog can drown. So, you will need to lower the water level and add some land based materials like sticks, larger rocks that stick out of the water, floating leaves, floating bark or wood, living pond plants that float or a pre-made frog habitat that offers water and land space. You will need both water and land. If you have a tank that has no lid or big gaps in your lid, you will want to cover them up. Frogs will jump up or climb up the sides of a tank and escape. Leave small spaces for air to get in though. 

How do you feed your new frogs?

If you want to keep a couple of your frogs you will have to catch live bait and feed them or you can buy some at a pet store. We have fed our frogs things like little ants, small beetles, flies, wingless gnats and other small bugs. You don't want your bugs or food to escape the tank either. So, when we feed them we try to place the bug near the frog so they see it immediately and eat it. Try not to over feed because the bugs will drown and rot. We usually put 1-2 bugs in at a time. If your frog eats a couple of the bugs that you put in and there is still a couple bugs left, try to get them back out in order to keep the tank clean. 

Releasing your frogs.

We choose to keep our frogs for just a couple weeks for observation. Then we release them in our miniature frog bog in our garden. We do this because we know we have this species already in our area and yard. If you do not know or mail order your tadpoles, do NOT release them. Just keep them as frogs. If you collect them from a pond that is not nearby, you can go back and release them their. Be careful to not release species that are not in your immediate area. 

1 comment:

  1. I remember bringing home tadpoles a few times, and they always died until we realized that they needed something to sit on to get themselves out of the water as their lungs developed. (At least I think that's what was happening...)

    One time my sister brought home a bucket of tadpoles that turned out to have a teeny tiny baby buffalo carp in it. (We didn't even realize it was there for a long time.) She kept him and named him Mike, and caught worms for him to eat. He lived in the science classroom at the high school for a while, and then later went to the Dayton Natural History Museum (in Ohio), and died when their tank sprang a leak. It was very sad. (It was a long time before we could bring ourselves to go to that museum again. She was calling it the Dayton Natural Fish-Kill Museum for a while. (Boooo!) Good memories. (She was also the one who brought home a snapping turtle once... that was exciting. She ended up getting a degree in Conservation Biology, and for a while had a job counting bees.)