Fun

How To Raise Tadpoles

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*This post was written by my friend Valerie and first published in April 2012. Our kids went to kindy together and we used to chat quite a bit since we saw each other twice a day. She once showed me a ladybug that she’d caught—I’d never seen one up close before. She’s also a veteran at caring for tadpoles, whereas my one-and-only tadpole rearing experiment ended in disaster, i.e. no survivors. Will let her tell us how it’s done!

A couple of weeks ago, Evelyn invited me to write on her blog in April, on anything I was good at and could teach her. I haven’t written anything in erm… seriously, a decade, AND I couldn’t think of anything I could do that would be worth teaching anyone.

Well what I’m writing here is not really “teaching,” but sharing a little adventure I had with my boys during the recent March school holidays. I’m a mother to two boys aged 8 and 6, who are helping me experience the childhood that I didn’t have. The coolest thing we’ve ever done was bringing these tadpoles home and watching them turn into frogs. We found
these little creatures in puddles of muddy rainwater on our way back from Kid’s Kampong and they were my boys’ prized catch of the day, not the colourful molly fish in the oxygen-filled bags.

So far everything’s been OK as we’ve already seen eight froglets and have a few more tadpoles undergoing metamorphosis. I’m still not a frog expert, but these are the things I’ve done to care for our tadpoles:

#1 Use a small plastic fish tank to house 2-3 tads. DO NOT wash the tank or anything you are going to put into the tank with SOAP. I know parents are good at sanitising, but in this case water is just fine.

#2 Fill your tank with dechlorinated water, rain water, or cool (previously boiled) drinking water. You can also use an aquarium dechlorinator but sit the water overnight to be sure it’s safe. The day we found the tads, we borrowed some water from our fish tank for our new arrivals.

#3 Of everything I tried to feed the tadpoles, boiled lettuce seemed to be their favourite. They gobbled up the first batch of butterhead lettuce I made; it was like baby food: boiled, drained, and stuffed into ice cube trays to freeze. With the second batch I got lazy and froze a whole box of pesticide-free romaine lettuce. I just tore and defrosted half a leaf daily, and it was still soft enough for them to eat. I’ve only given them butterhead and romaine lettuce; haven’t tried iceberg lettuce or cabbage.

#4 For really busy parents, tadpoles do survive on dry terrapin pellets. A friend who has adopted six of our tads and feeds them with pellets reports that they’re doing well too. Feed 2 pellets daily.

#5 To keep the tank clean, scoop up half of the dirty water and replace daily. I didn’t net the tads, they remained in the tank when I changed the water.

#6 Put in a small rock for them to climb on when they start growing forelegs.

#7 Keep the lid on the tank when their tails completely disappear. That’s when they’ll climb out of the tank!

It’s been more than a month and my little boys are still squatting at their frog tank daily. It’s still amazing to them how the little legs grow and how the tails disappear. And it surprised me how cute the little froglets are, only as big as a toddler’s thumb and they really leap!

I’m not sure of the exact species, but I’ve searched for pictures and our little pets resemble tree frogs.

Just the other day my eight year old said, “Mummy, don’t tell the others where we found the tadpoles, they’ll go and catch them and start selling them!” These tadpoles are my boy’s treasure. He proudly brought them to school last week!

We had to free our froglets in the park when efforts to feed them failed and my whole kitchen was filled with fruitflies. I read that they eat baby crickets so… bon appétit in the park!

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