Monday, July 20, 2009

Through Child's Eyes - Raising Tadpoles

Back in April, my sis-in-law shared some newly hatched tadpoles with us. I thought it would be a great hands-on-nature project for the children. But I had as much to learn as they did!

First of all, what does a tadpole eat? I figured if we gave them pond water, there would be something in the water for them to eat. After several weeks, I began to wonder if I was caring for them correctly, none had died, but they were not growing either! A quick google search (make that Swagbuck search!) found that you could feed tadpoles fish food flakes or boiled lettuce leaves. Did you know that boiled lettuce has the exact same appearance and feel as scummy pond weeds! But the texture apparently appealed to the tadpoles as they ate a huge amount of lettuce leaves! I must have been starving them!

It took a while, but eventually they began to grow back legs. More time passed and one little guy grew some front legs and lost his tale. Now we really did have a frog! But he promptly died. The next tadpole to grow front legs joined the first in his demise. I had a large rock for the baby frogs to climb on but I learned that newly turned frogs can drown. I got a new jar, placed stones on the bottom and just a small amount of water. As tadpoles would grow their four legs, I'd place them in this jar, where they lived happily ever after.
Well, not quite. Now the frogs would not eat lettuce leaves. And I didn't know what they would eat! Worse, their water was getting a lot of little squiggly larvae of some sort. I figured it was mosquitoes and I wasn't going to sit around and watch several hundred mosqitioes emerge from the tadpole jar!

It was time to move on! Or move out! The children didn't like losing their tadpole pets, but like most pets, mom was the only one who was caring, watching, or otherwise involved in the pet's life. They really had gotten tired of watching them anyway. We walked down to our neighbor's pond and found a nice shallow spot on the pond edge and gently placed the new frogs into the grass.

The same week we found two little frogs (or toads) by our garden. They were just tiny things, but about twice the size of the ones we raised. They also had the same markings on their back. Whether this is what our tadpoles will become when they grow up is unknown to me - but the children loved playing with them and if we ever see them again, they'll always think they were the ones we watched grow legs!

No nature adventure is complete without books! We found two wonderful books about frogs in the library! Frogs by Nic Bishop and Face to Face with Frogs by Mark W. Moffat. The photography in these books was amazing! And the stories (facts) these books relate is even more incredible! Such as the poison dart frog that carries her tadpoles on her back to a safe growing spot in the rain forest - and returns to each tadpole to lay an unfertilized egg for it to eat! Who says frogs don't have brains! Truly our world is fearfully and wonderfully made!


  1. I came across your blog in my efforts to care for our own new tadpole family! I am looking forward to watching my son (2) watch his "fish" morph into little frogs.
    Thanks for the tips!

    Amanda @

  2. I saw this when googling "how to care for tadpoles", and thank god I found this! Everything else wasn't helpful, but I love how you told me what and what NOT to do. Thanks! I look forward to raising two tadpoles and releasing them back.


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