Tadpoles develop from frog eggs and then develop into frogs. They are easy creatures to keep, provided that they are given the proper care. However, it is important to consider if taking them from their natural environment and placing them into a container is in their best interests. Often visiting them in their natural habitat to watch them grow and change is more exciting and less stressful on the tadpoles then keeping them at home. However, if you were to keep a few at home, here are some tips to make them as comfortable as possible.
Things to do first
Different states and territories have different laws regarding the keeping of tadpoles and/or frogs so be sure to check these first. For example, in Queensland, you can keep tadpoles without a permit but once they develop into frogs there are laws you need to comply with. For more information about the laws regarding frogs and tadpoles in your state visit the Amphibian Research Centre website.
It may take months for tadpoles to develop into frogs so before collection, ensure you have the time to care for them.
Be prepared in terms of the right containers (including aerators if needed), the appropriate food (type and amount) and knowledge on how to care for tadpoles.
Know what you are collecting
It is easy to collect toadpoles instead of tadpoles in which case you will end up with cane toads, not frogs. Visit the Frogsafe website for more information.
Short, wide plastic containers, trays, aquariums are suitable to house tadpoles and it is recommended to have soil on the bottom (about 15mm deep), water plants and protruding rocks to allow the developing frogs to emerge from the water. The water need not be deep, but a large surface area is necessary if an aerator is not used. Rain water (collected directly from the rain and not from metal roofs or through copper pipes) should be used allowing for about 1L per adult frog – fluorinated water may be toxic to frogs. The water will need changing when it becomes cloudy.
Keep the container away from direct sunlight to prevent the water from becoming too hot and killing the tadpoles but an hour or so of daily sunlight is essential for development. During hot weather, water may need to be added to compensate for evaporation. Care should also be taken to ensure no chemicals are sprayed near the container and that they are protected from predators such as cats or rats.
Tadpoles will eat greens including lettuce (not cos or iceberg), broccoli, or baby spinach. It is best to rinse and freeze these before feeding. Be careful that the water does not become fouled from overfeeding, so only add food once the previous meal has vanished – usually twice daily is good. You can also collect leaves which have some algal growth from the bottom of a local creek to add to your container.
Reliable information about caring for tadpoles and frogs is available on the following sites:
Frogsafe Inc. www.frogsafe.org.au
Amphibian Research Centre www.frogs.org.au
The Victorian Frog Group www.frogs.org.au/vfg