{Raising Tadpoles: A Documentary} – Day One: We have Tadpoles!!

Last week my mom told me she had found some tadpoles for Luke (4.5yo) and Lilah (3yo).  I have to admit that regardless of how L&L felt about it, I personally was super stoked!  Being able to watch the life cycle of a frog or toad first-hand would be simply amazing.  What better way for my little preschoolers to learn about science and nature than to watch it right in front of their eyes!  I happily told my mom we’d love to have them, and then we excitedly awaited the arrival of our tadpoles. 

In the days since the tadpoles have come to live with us, we have learned a lot about tadpoles and about life!!  Having never raised tadpoles before, I really had no idea what we were in for.  I thought some of you might like to read about our tadpole experience and perhaps share our photos with your children.  Here is our tadpole story…

Day 1: Saturday, September 22nd
My mom brought the tadpoles today.  She has a little fish pond in her backyard (maybe 2′ x 4′ roughly) and during her daily fish feedings, she began to notice little black tadpoles swimming in there, too.  So, this past Saturday when my parents who live about 3 hours away were driving up for a visit, my mom scooped up a little jar full of them and brought them to us.  There are roughly 21 or 22 of them; they seldom all stay in one spot, so it makes them difficult to count accurately.  The tadpoles are small and black with little tails.  One of them has back legs already, but the others have no signs of any legs at all.  My mom said they were all near the edge of the pond, and she got that many with only two scoops of her little net.

DH and I went all over looking for one of those plastic tadpole-to-frog habitats, but apparently those are out of season now.  We ended up just buying a terrarium from the pet store for ~$13.  It’s plastic with a green, vented lid that is removable.  We also picked up some aquatic tadpole and frog food there, too.  We filled the bottom of the terrarium with rocks we’d collected from a stream on a recent mountain trip, and a large rock that L&L’s Oma had given them from her rock collection.  

It was late as we were setting up the terrarium and we needed water for the tadpoles fast, so we bought some distilled water from the grocery store.  Regular tap water has chlorine which would kill the tadpoles, so if you are using tap water, you need to let it sit out for around 5 days first.  Ideally, we’ll mostly use water from a stream or pond in the future as I’ve read tadpoles thrive best that way, but after emptying the distilled water from the jug into the terrarium, I refilled it with tap water and sat it on the porch where it’d get some sun.  This way I’ll have a continuous supply of “safe” water to use when and if I need it.

I also read that you can feed tadpoles lettuce.  So following the directions I googled, I boiled the lettuce and froze it on a cookie sheet.  When it was frozen, I put it into a Ziploc baggie stored in the freezer so I can easily tear off little chunks to add to the tadpoles’ habitat.

Stay tuned for more posts documenting our tadpole nature study!  I’ve been posting a current photo and update daily on Facebook if you want to stay up to date on our tadpole raising adventures!

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • Brenda W says:

    Hi! What an exciting adventure! We have one of those blue stand alone pools and it never fails that when we drain the pool, frogs will get into the little pools of fresh water left by the rain. Usually when I see those little floating dots, I know we have tadpoles and start scooping! We have kept them in an old, green turtle sandbox filled with their water. It is exciting to see them grow into frogs! What a wonderful way to teach little ones about life!

  • I am so jealous! So fun! I can’t wait to see what happens next!

  • Michele says:

    How exciting! We raised tadpoles several weeks ago and I just blogged about them yesterday! It was so fun watching them!

  • Lauren says:

    so fun! I’m looking forward to seeing what happens so we can give it a shot for ourselves 🙂

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