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Tadpoles and Frogs


From Frog Eggs, to Tadpoles, To Frogs!

Would you like to learn a little more about tadpoles and frogs? Maybe you'd like to learn about the frog life cycle, how to care for tadpoles and frogs, the difference between frogs and toads, or how frogs breathe?

Twice, my son and I have enjoyed watching the frog life cycle unfold before our eyes. We recorded in photos and text our discoveries as we observed frog eggs hatch into tadpoles, and then tadpoles grow, change shape and metamorphosize into frogs. Later, we had the joy of observing our young frogs hopping around their terrarium, eating bugs, hiding in the moss in their terrarium, and climbing here and there on the various items we added to make their habitat more interesting for them.

On this page, in addition to showing you many of the photos we took, I've provided some tips we've learned about raising tadpoles and frogs. I've also shared additional factual information about tadpoles and frogs.

The frog image above & all other photos on this page (unless otherwise credited below), were taken by myself and are copyrighted.

Tadpole Metamorphosis - Look at how these tadpoles change!


These drawings show some of the changes that tadpoles go through on their way to becoming young frogs. Tadpoles start out with a head/abdomen and a tail. Next their back legs begin to grow. Front feet pop out next. Gradually their tail gets smaller and smaller until it's completely gone.

Do you have tadpoles or frogs at your house?

Frog Eggs are the First Stage In The Frog Life Cycle - April 30: Day 1 of our Frog Life Cycle Project


Frog eggs appear as tiny specks of black inside a jelly like substance.

A friend of ours has a pond in her backyard. She gathered up some of the frog eggs in her pond to share with the various members of our small homeschool group. We're studying the frog life cycle in our science curriculum, and what better way to learn than to observe the process first hand?!

The picture above is of our frog eggs resting in the bottom of a container of pond water. They resemble a chicken egg,(one that's been opened and poured into a bowl) in that they have a center part surrounded by an almost clear jelly-like substance. Frog eggs don't ever have a hard shell surrounding them though.

One difference between frog eggs and toad eggs is that frog eggs are in blobs or clumps, called frog sprawn, and toad eggs are in strings.

New hatched tadpoles

New hatched tadpoles

Our Tadpoles on their first day of being tadpoles

Our Tadpoles on their first day of being tadpoles

Scroll to Continue

Our Frog Eggs Hatched Into Tiny Tadpoles! -

May 2: These tadpoles hatched overnight last night!

Tadpoles, or polliwogs as they are sometimes called, are the second stage in the frog life cycle.

These photos of our tadpoles on their first day of being tadpoles (just after they hatched from eggs) are enlarged so you can see them better. Each tadpole in this photo was actually smaller than a centimeter. Notice the clear covering over the tadpoles' tails.

Our Tadpoles are changing shape! - May 9: The tadpoles are now one week old.

Look at those eyes and how much the tadpoles have changed in just a week!

Look at those eyes and how much the tadpoles have changed in just a week!

1 Week Old

Our tadpoles are a week old. Look how much they've changed! Their bodies are now rounder and their tails are skinnier. The clear substance surrounding their tails is barely visible now.

Although they have plenty of room to swim around, they spent most of their time facing the sides of the bowl until today. Their activity has definitely increased now.

The photograph above is enlarged, but you can now very clearly see the tadpoles' eyes even to the naked eye.

Growing hind legs is the next stage in the frog life cycle - May 25: Three of our tadpoles now have hind legs!

Now they've got hind legs!

Now they've got hind legs!

When we woke up this morning, we noticed that three of our tadpoles had hind legs! You can see two of those tadpoles in the picture above. The tadpoles are just over three weeks old now.

A closeup of a leg and foot

A closeup of a leg and foot

Here's a close-up of the leg and foot of the larger of the two tadpoles in the picture at the top of this section.


Both of a tadpole's back legs appear at the same time.

Front legs come next in the Frog Life Cycle - June 1: One of our tadpoles got front legs today!

June 1: Front legs

June 1: Front legs

He still has a really long tail, but is looking more and more like a young frog!

Same frog on June 2

Same frog on June 2

Next young froglets lose their tails.

Actually, it's not that their tails fall off. It's that they get shorter and shorter.

June 2: The same tadpole as in the picture above has now almost lost his tail. He's now a young froglet. When I went to bed last night, I noticed that he was hanging on the side of the container, out of the water except for his long tail which draped down into the water. I put him in a smaller container (leaving the other tadpoles in the larger container), lowered the water level in his new home (so he wouldn't drown), added a rock so he could rest on that instead, and put a cover over his home so that he couldn't jump out. This morning when I got up, he was still hanging onto the side of his container, and his tail was considerably shorter! It is amazing to me how much they change overnight!!

Notice the difference one day makes! The photo (above) shows the same froglet that's shown in the photo in the previous section, just one day later. Where did his tail go?!


This was taken from the outside of his home, and shows his underside.
His tail just barely touches his water. It will probably be completely gone by
tomorrow or the day after that. You can see his rock in the background.

I think I can, I think I can....

I think I can, I think I can....

I think I can, I think I can....

How to house frog eggs and tadpoles

Planning in advance is essential for frog eggs and tadpoles!

Things you need to take care of:

  1. The water - no chlorine!
  2. The container or habitat
  3. The sun
  4. A flat rock once they grow back legs
  5. Some sort of cover for the container once they grow back legs


The Water

Chlorine will kill tadpoles within 30 minutes or so. You absolutely can not use regular tap water without first getting rid of the chlorine.

  1. One solution is to collect sufficient pond water for your frog eggs or tadpoles (and be prepared to go back for more later).
  2. Another option is to use tap water which has been set out for at least 5 to 7 days (in the sunlight, if possible) to allow the chlorine to evaporate.
  3. A third option is to purchase de-chlorinating drops at a pet store. Read the directions on the bottle to find out how much to add, based on the amount of water you are using. Then, after adding the drops, wait until the following day before using the water to ensure that all the chlorine is gone.

My suggestion: Don't be in a hurry to get your tadpoles out of the pond water you collected them in. When you first bring your tadpoles home, keep them in the same pond water you collected them in until you can dechlorinate your tap water either by letting it set out for several days or by using dechlorinating drops.

Can you see the tadpoles all along the edge of the container? At this point in their development, they don't move around much.

Can you see the tadpoles all along the edge of the container? At this point in their development, they don't move around much.

The Container / Habitat / Terrarium

Although you can't tell it in the picture, this is one of those larger rectangular sizes of food storage containers. It will work fine for now.

A large jar, plastic container, fish bowl, or aquarium will work fine for the initial days of raising frog eggs and tadpoles inside. Around the time their front legs appear, a flatter container (or an aquarium or terrarium with only a few inches of water in it) will work better so that you can add a rock that has a relatively flat top surface that rises above the water.

If you plan on keeping your frogs once they've become frogs, an aquarium or terrarium will become necessary. They need a heater over or under part of their terrarium, as well as a section of their habitat that's not heated.

Many people also raise tadpoles outside in kiddie pools, ponds, garden fountains, etc. A friend of mine has wild frogs lay eggs in her small kiddie pool every year, although she does nothing to encourage this other than not empty the pool each spring!

Tadpoles need a little sunshine to be healthy

Tadpoles need a little sunshine to be healthy

The Sun

Although too much sun is not good for tadpoles, they do need a little sunlight each day in order to make vitamin D. Tadpoles that don't receive any sunlight may not develop into frogs. Please be careful in supplying this sun so that you don't overheat the tadpoles or their water!!

The Rock

As the tadpoles grow, and gain both back legs and front legs, you'll need to add a rock for them to hop on to get out of the water. Otherwise, they may drown when they suddenly reach the stage where they need to breath air! (It may happen sooner than you think, too! They don't have to have completely lost all of their tail before reaching the state where they breath with lungs.) It's best if the rock provides a gradual slope for the young froglets to climb out on. Also, once they are able to hop up on the rock, you'll need some sort of lid or they'll hop right out!

If you are raising the frogs outside, simply make sure they can easily access the land when they reach the stage where they need to get out of the water.

Tadpoles Eating Goldfish Flakes. May 11 - The Tadpoles Are Just Over A Week Old.

Tadpoles Eating Goldfish Flakes. May 11 - The Tadpoles Are Just Over A Week Old.

What to feed tadpoles - Goldfish Food or boiled Lettuce

Frog eggs don't need anything from you in order to thrive, except for clean, chlorine-free water, and pleasant room temperatures.

Once the frog eggs hatch into tadpoles, you can feed them goldfish flakes. Shown here are two of our tadpoles chowing down on a goldfish flake!

Our tadpoles are also enjoying goldfish granules that sink to the bottom of the bowl, and algae nuggets, all three of which are available in the fish supplies section of many pet stores, as well as on this site.

Another option is to boil lettuce for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the water off, chop the lettuce up a little, and freeze it in ice cube trays or ziplock bags. Freezing it softens the lettuce to where they can more easily eat it.

Don't overfeed them or their water will get cloudy.

Changing the water in your tadpoles habitat.

Nets are helpful for scooping tadpoles out of ponds, as well as for moving the tadpoles into another contanier when it's time to change their water.

Your tadpoles' water will likely need to be changed every so often. The frequency of water changes depends upon how many tadpoles you are caring for, as well as if you are over-feeding them (as that quickly clouds the water).

To change their water, prepare another container with room temperature chlorine-free water. (We keep some extra prepared water on hand at all times while raising tadpoles. Just put water in a large bowl, add the water conditioner drops to it, and keep it nearby for use whenever you need it.) Then use a net or spoon to gently scoop the tadpoles up and transfer them to the new container. Do the process quickly, so that they are not out of water very long. Lower the net down into the water, invert it some if necessary, and allow the tadpole to swim out on his own. Be very careful while adding the tadpoles back into water as you don't want any tiny feet to get stuck in the net!

If the container you have just added your tadpoles to is large enough to be their new home, wash the other container and store it for the next time you need to change their water (or fill it up with chlorine-free water for later use). If you have only added the tadpoles to a temporary container while changing the water, rinse out and dry their home, then very, very carefully and gently pour the tadpoles and water back into it. (Or use the net again to transfer the tadpoles back, making sure to use room temperature de-chlorinated water.)

Our Frog's New Home

Here's how we set up our frog terrarium.

Yesterday afternoon (June 2), we set up our terrarium and then placed our new froglet, along with his plastic container home, into one side of the terrarium. That way he could climb out of his previous home and into his new home in the terrarium whenever he felt the time was right. Here's how it looked.

Our frogs' terrarium

Our frogs' terrarium

In this photo, our tiny new froglet is resting on the side of his former home
- the container with a rock and water in it. Do you see him? He's the tiny tanish dot on the side of the plastic container, right next to the tan hut. He's not yet left the safety of his previous home in order to explore his new terrarium.

On the floor of our terrarium is astroturf carpet which we purchased as "reptile carpeting" at the pet store. We added small plastic plants and also a large rock and plant aquarium decoration, in order to give our tree frog something interesting to climb on. We put in a plastic dish of water which is shaped somewhat like a rock in the middle of the terrarium. Also covering the middle section of the terrarium is moss, which most frogs love as it retains moisture and increases the humidity in their home. One one side of the terrarium is a little plastic hut which will serve as a cave for our frog to hide in if he desires.

Underneath one side of the terrarium is a heating element. This provides a little warmth for our cold-blooded frog. He can choose to be over the heated section, or the non-heated section, depending upon what he needs at that moment. The heating element came in a "tree frog kit" that we purchased at the pet store.

Should I stay, or should I go?

Should I stay, or should I go?

Should I stay, or should I go?

Once your tadpoles become frogs, they'll need live bugs to eat. This youtube has some awesome tips on catching bug

The first section shows shots of a particular frog. The hints on catching bugs come after that.

Video showing how to catch bugs for your frogs

Flightless Fruit Flies

Flightless fruitflies are an excellent food for your tiny froglets. Each culture should continue reproducing fruit flies for a month or so.

If you find you aren't able to collect enough bugs for your frogs to eat using the methods above, or if you'd just prefer a simpler way to supply your frogs with bugs, pinhead crickets or flightless fruit flies are enjoyed by most young froglets and can be purchased. You may be able to find flightless fruit flies or pinhead crickets at your local pet store, but not all pet stores carry them. You can also purchase flightless or wingless fruit flies or pinhead crickets online. Flightless or wingless fruit flies are much easier to deal with then regular fruit flies you catch outside....especially if you have a terrarium inside and would prefer not to have fruit flies flying all around your house!

Each container of fruit flies will continue producing more fruit flies for a month or more, as long as you keep at least a few adults in the container. You only need to shake a few fruit flies (per frog) into your frog's habitat every day or so, depending upon how quickly they get eaten.

Where to Buy Fruit Flies - And how to culture your own.

  • Fruit Fly Shop
    Site sells wingless fruitflies, flightless fruit flies, fruit fly culture kits, and more.
  • Josh's Frogs
    Another site that says both fruit flies and fruit fly culture.
  • Amphibian Care
    This site explains how to culture your own fruit flies.

Another method of catching bugs for your frogs!

Yesterday I was visiting a friend who explained to me her method for collecting a large number of fruit flies to feed her praying mantis. She sets a plastic container of fruit scrapes outside, which of course attracts fruit flies. When it has fruit flies buzzing all around it, she puts her butterfly net over the container and shakes the container just a little bit. The fruit flies fly to the inside of the top of the net. Next she puts a hand near the bottom of the net, squeezing it closed. Gradually she moves her hand up the net, so that any fruit flies which have not already flown to the top of the net do so. When her hand is near the top, she carries the net (with her hand still around the net keeping the fruit flies in the very tip of the net) over to her tank. She takes the lid off the tank and slightly inverts the net into the tank, causing the fruit flies to fly into the tank. Then she quickly closes the tank. She is able to get a large number of fruit flies at one time in this way!

P.S. My friend said that she found it easier to remove the handle on the butterfly net when using it for this purpose. The handle just got in the way.

Thanks for the tip, Randi! :-)

Humidity in your frog habitat

Humidity is good for frogs!

Frogs like humidity. In fact, they can die if their skin dries out too much. Therefore, unless you have a waterfall feature in your terrarium that sprays a fine mist into the air, it's a good idea to spray your terrarium and frog with chlorine-free water every morning. Spray the plants, the moss, the walls...everything!

Keep your frogs moist

Keep your frogs moist

June 4: This little fellow hatched from an egg, into a tadpole, 33 days ago,
and left the water as a frog two days ago. He's just over a centimeter big
when his legs are pulled in close to him.

Our terrarium often has water droplets on the glass, and although it makes visibility for us a bit harder, it's good for the frog. When we want a good view of our frog, we can just lift off the lid.

Books About Tadpoles And Frogs - Want to learn more about Tadpoles and Frogs?

Whether you have tadpoles now, or have had them in the past, have you raised them more than once?

Books on Tadpole and Frog Care

June 11: There are now 5 little frogs in our terrarium. They enjoy being either in high places or under the cool moist moss.

Some frogs love high places, like this one!

Some frogs love high places, like this one!

June 26: We now have 7 little frogs. They're eating tiny crickets, fightless fruitflies, and a few bugs we catch outside.

Maybe he thinks he's a flower?

Maybe he thinks he's a flower?

How quickly will my tadpoles become frogs? - Not all tadpoles develop at the same rate

As you can see from the dates and photos on this page, not all tadpoles develop at the same rate. Although they were all eggs at the same time, their development varied quite a bit. It took some of our tadpoles several weeks longer to become frogs. Our quickest tadpole made the change - from newly hatched tadpole to ready-to-leave-the-water frog in almost exactly 1 month....but some of the other frogs from the same group took weeks longer.

Our first group of tadpoles - the ones you've been looking at on this page - were treefrogs. Most of them developed into frogs rather quickly. Another year we were given some bullfrog tadpoles. They took FOREVER to turn into frogs!!!

How do tadpoles and frogs breath?

Tadpoles start off by breathing underwater through gills as well as through their skin. As they metamorph into frogs, most develop lungs for breathing and lose their gills. Interestingly, frogs breath with their mouths closed! Movements in their throat pull air into their lungs through their nostrils. Contractions of their bodies allows them to breath out. Like tadpoles, adult frogs can breath through their skin as well.

Frog Skeleton

Classification of Frogs and Toads

Frogs and toads are amphibians.

Frogs and toads are in the kingdom Animalia, the phylum Chordata, the class Amphibia and the order Anura.

The class "Amphibia" refers to amphibians. Amphibians means "double life" in the Greek language, because most amphibians live part of their lives on land and part in water. Amphibians are cold blooded and have a backbone. They differ from reptiles in that they don't have scales and most lay their eggs in water. Salamanders, newts and caecilians (worm like animals) are also in the Amphibia class.

What's the difference between frogs and toads?


Don't forget to make your guess about which one is a frog, and which one is a toad before you get to the answer at the bottom!

There are several differences in the bodies of frogs and toads.

Frogs have long webbed hind feet which are good for swimming and leaping.
Toads have short hind legs, which are better suited for walking than hopping.

Frogs like to live around water.
Toads like to live in drier areas.

Frogs have slimy or smooth skin.
Toads have dry skin with warts.

Frogs have a narrower body than toads.

Frogs' eyes stick out more from their bodies than toads' eyes do.

A group of frogs is called an army.
A group of toads is called a knot.

So what do you think? Which one is a frog and which one is a toad?

Have you guessed which one is which?

Toad Image credit: Coneheadthebarbarian
Frog Image Credit: Wikipedia Public Domain

What do you think?


Scroll down for the answer.


So what's the answer! Which one is a frog and which one is a toad?

ANSWER: The image on the left is a frog and the one on the right is a toad.

© 2009 JanieceTobey


FatLossDiva on February 26, 2013:

@FatLossDiva: Ah, yes. Just as well I didn't get that frog then. :)

JanieceTobey (author) on February 12, 2013: