{Raising Tadpoles: A Documentary} Day Three — Oh, Sad Day!

raising tadpoles terrarium aquarium observe observation

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 One: Saturday, September 22nd
Day Two: Sunday, September 23rd

Day Three: Monday, September 24th
This morning we came downstairs and immediately looked for the little tadpole with newly sprouted front and hind legs.  He wasn’t on the rock.  He wasn’t swimming around.  We were busy though and got distracted quickly, so we didn’t think too much of it.  With 20+ tadpoles, it was hard to keep track of all of them!

It was around noon when we finally saw him.  He was upside down in the water!  I quickly used a plastic spoon to gently scoop him out and lay him on the big rock, with a small sliver of hope that he would begin breathing again.  Several hours went by and it became apparent he was gone.

Luke (4yo): Is he dead forever?
Me: Yes, baby.  Dead forever.

And so we lost our first “pet” since having kids.  L&L took it pretty well.  Almost too well, and so I talked to them about how I was sad that he had died, and they joined in, too, by talking about their feelings.

I honestly felt horrible about our poor little toadlet’s death.

Did he not have enough to eat?  Maybe since he was in the process of becoming a toad, he needed flies to eat instead of tadpole food and lettuce??  Was the rock too steep?  Did he fall in and drown?  Was there something I could have done differently and he would still be alive, perched up there as king of the big rock??

death die gone forever miss you

The rest of the tadpoles looked and seemed healthy…I checked on them often to make sure.  We continued to feed them tadpole food and little bits of frozen lettuce.  I started grinding the tadpole pellets with my mortar and pestle to make the bits smaller.  You can see the powdered tadpole food floating on the water in some of the photos.


gathering of tadpoles near the big rock



Up until this point we had kept the aquarium/terrarium on our kitchen table where we could all easily watch the busy tadpoles swimming around, but by the evening of day three, it smelled “pond-like” enough that no one found it an appetizing addition to the dinner table and so we moved it to another table nearby.

close up of tadpoles











Here is one little tadpole holding on to the leaf of a water plant from the pond. I like how they grab on and then their weight slowly pulls the plant down under the water.  It’s one of my favorite things to watch them do!


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!

tadpoles toad toads frog frogs life cycle

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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!

  • Cassie says:

    Ahh how sad! I love how you handled it!

  • Anonymous says:

    When we raised tadpoles in our backyard, we gave them duckweed to eat. It is a water plant that some, but few nurseries sell. If you have ponds around you, you could even get some from there to bring back. Not sure if it would help, but worth a try. Also when our froglets were the size of your little toad guy, that is when they left our pond area and went out on their own. Not sure if you have a way to make a land area for them to transition too. Since ours were outside we didn’t have to worry about getting bugs, but when my nephews catch frogs they feed them little ants. Just some ideas. I love the adventure you are taking on with your class!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes. I agree with Anonymous’ comment above..when they can climb out of the water, they need to be to be able to go into an outdoor environment area to increase survival chances… we had a diy outdoor pond when we did our tadpole observations…as they grew, we watched them hop onto the surrounding rocks, then into the yard, and eventually off into the world 🙂 (except for Jeremiah, a large bullfrog that decided to stay in the little pond, then go for midnight swims in our family pool!),,lol

  • Hi Genny!

    I seem to have lost touch with you somehow! My kids have found some tadpoles, so we are about to embark on a tadpole adventure. I came back to this post to get some ideas of what to feed them.

    I hope you are doing well!


  • hi it is 8/03/2017 and i have a gray eastern tree frog who is staying in my outside mortar chinney and he has been mating with a girl frog and i got the tadpoles eggs out of my pool so desided to hatch them. my question is it is late into summer will they be old enough to winter over

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