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Caring for Frogspawn and Tadpoles

Published on 9th February 2019

Tadpoles are often one of our first close interactions with nature and fascinate both adults and children alike.

Very soon our drowsy native amphibians will be kicking into action, so keep an eye out for the jelly-like clumps of frogspawn and long strings of toad spawn.

Collecting frogspawn

If you don’t have a pond of your own, friends, neighbours and relatives are usually more than happy to help or seek permission from local farm or fish pond owners.

Some species of frogs and toads are endangered, so it’s really important to not take from wild habitats.

Position housing out of direct sun and away from heating

A small fish tank is best (sorry, not jars!). If you want to add a few stones and weed for decoration, you could make an attractive little feature out of it, plus it allows more surfaces for algae to grow on.

It’s preferred to allow tap water to settle for 24 hours before adding tadpoles and you may want to make partial water changes every couple of weeks to keep it clean. Keep temperatures as close to their natural habit as is realistically possible in the home.

In the wild tadpoles mainly feed on algae.

They're always hungry

Once they've hatched and eaten their nutritious eggs, your tadpoles will be looking for more food. Romaine lettuce is the go-to for domestic tadpole dining and boiling it breaks down the tough leaves so that the tiny mouths can nibble at leisure.

Remember to be careful adding any plant material to the water in case of pesticides and don’t leave old food in the water to rot.

Development takes around 6 to 12 weeks

At first, the spawn will be a black bead, which turns into a comma before hatching as a tiny tadpole and growing-on. As the tadpoles age, you’ll see legs sprout and the tail shrink.

Place a rock in the tank and reduce the water level a little so there’s room for them to crawl onto land.

Teenage toads

You now have miniature adult frogs or toads. Telling the difference is not difficult and even easier with a magnifying glass.

Frogs are smooth and have a dark band across their eyes with stripes on their hind legs. Toads are warty and have two lumps behind their eyes. They generally look grumpier!

Find a safe place to release them

They’re so vulnerable at this stage; long waterside vegetation is a sheltered habitat. It’s sad to say goodbye, but you’ll still see them hopping about for years to come and they’re first-rate pest control in the garden – so much you’ll want to build a nature pond for the next generation!

Fun fact: toads can live for up to 15 years!

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