Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tadpole Terrarium

Our big project the last couple of months has been a tadpole terrarium.  Here is our journey:

 5/9/2011-The park next to my daughter's school has a lovely creek running through it.  It's great for exploration!  Using an old water bottle, we collected a number of tadpoles to take home.  I wanted a lot because I wasn't sure how many would survive.  
 We found the water bottle to be too small for our experiment, so we moved onto a recycled juice bottle. We kept a 2nd juice bottle for collecting additional creek water and moss.  
 We have worked hard to change the moss and the creek water at least once a week.  This provides a cleaner environment and fresh micro-organisms for our little creatures.  
 One of our tadpoles.  
 Besides tadpoles, we have a number of snails living in our terrarium, amongst other things you can't see with the camera.  The snails hide in the moss, so every time I bring home fresh moss, I bring home a bunch of new snails too.  Some are close to the size of our tadpoles and some are as tiny as the head of a pin.  When all the frogs are released, I will also release the snails back into the wild.  
 6/10/2011- After weeks of waiting, our first frog appears!  He was about the size of my thumb tip.  
 6/12/2011- Here's our frog in our portable container for terrarium cleaning.  Unfortunately we lost this frog.  I didn't release him fast enough, so for many different reasons I'm sure, he passed away.  
6/20/2011-Ten days later we have two more frogs! 
 It's amazing how they change over night.  The day prior he was still swimming with the other tadpoles!
 6/20/2011- I wasn't taking any chances with the two new frogs!  My parents asked if we could release the frogs into their ponds, so we did.  They both quickly swam off to hide.  
Soon after being released, this little frog decided to check out his new home.  I think he'll be very happy here.  A natural setting but less predators!  

What the children and I learned: 
  • It's a lot of work taking care of such small creatures!  It really became a hassle changing the water once a week because I had to hike to a deeper point in the creek so I could fill the bottle easily.  
  • Tadpoles are hearty.  I didn't count how many we started with because I added to the bottle several times, but we didn't seem to loose very many.  I still have 10 or so in the bottle waiting to change.  
  • The frogs need to be released right away!  I don't know if our first one died from needing different food or because the tadpoles ate him.  Either way, I won't take that chance again and I wouldn't suggest you do either.  These frogs are very tiny so trying to catch them bugs isn't as easy as it sounds. 
  • Nature is not always kind.  If the tadpoles didn't eat the frog before he died, they sure did afterwards!   


  1. We have also been watching tadpoles develop in a small pond up the street from our home. It has been amazing and my boys did learn alot.

  2. Wow! That looks like a great learning experience for you and your children. Have you done activities like this before? How did you learn about what you would need to do? My little guy is too young for this, but what a great idea!

  3. Nichole, a mom in my mom's group mentioned to me that she did this last year. I asked her about her experience and what she fed the tadpoles. She explained to me about changing the water regularly and gathering the moss (although I think she thought they ate the moss and I'm pretty sure the eat the little organisms in the moss). It all made sense so it was worth a shot. Linking what the tadpoles ate to the moss, I also gathered tiny larva (I think mosquito) I found sticking to rocks. Those did not last long so I know whatever larva it was, the tadpoles were definitely eating them!

  4. I love this! We got to spontaneously observe tadpoles last summer. We weren't quick enough to change out the water in our small pool and we had hundreds and hundreds of tadpoles. We didnt get to swim in it the rest of the summer because we most certainly didn't want to just drain the water! I know my son thoroughly enjoyed that experience, as I'm sure your children enjoyed your tadpole terrarium. I'm so glad I came across your blog, by the way. Thank you for all the great ideas!

  5. So glad you can join me Joyce and thanks for sharing your story! That's funny the frogs laid eggs in your little pool but what a great experience for your son. Nature is amazing! Hope to hear from you again soon :)

  6. you can't use a bottle like that for tadpoles unless you put them in a shallow container immediately after seeing legs appear. the kind of bottle that you used could make the frogs not be able to get out of the bottle once they morph. just be careful, you don't want to kill any more poor little tads.

    1. It's hard to tell from my photos, but I did move them right away to a better container once the legs appeared. I didn't want anything to happen to those little guys. I assure you they were well taken care of in our hands. Once they were released, well, who knows.



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