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I bought bullfrog tadpoles for my pond. What do I need to know about them?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I bought bullfrog tadpoles for my pond. What do I need to know about them?

Q: I bought bullfrog tadpoles for my pond. What do I need to know about them?

Iris – Kirkland, WA

A: Those big croaking amphibians sure love living in a water garden. Bullfrogs gobble pesky bugs and nibble on nuisance algae while entertaining their human hobbyists with their leaping prowess and trance-inducing ribbit-ribbit songs.

When they’re adults, bullfrogs are impressive creatures: As one of the largest frogs in the world, they grow to 8 inches long and weigh up to 1½ pounds. When they’re tadpoles, they’re impressive, too. The dark green swimmers measure up to 6 inches long, which is larger than most other frog species, and sport a dorsal fin that begins behind its arrowhead-shaped body.

Caring for your tadpoles involves understanding their habitat, diet and developmental stages. Here’s what you need to know to grow your baby bullfrog into a beefy bug-eating adult.

Healthy Habitat

Bullfrog tadpoles like to swim in shallow water on fine gravel bottoms. As they grow, they tend to move into deeper waters. They have speckled-skin camouflage to help protect them from predators, but you should still plan to provide a wide variety of floating and submerged plants, like parrots feather, frogbit and water lilies, as well as rocks and other hides to your pond. The little guys will hang out among them should a hungry bird or fish fly or swim by for a bite to eat.

Algae, Please

When they’re young, bullfrog tadpoles are herbivores that love to nibble on the string algae that forms along your rocks and under plants. Though they have been observed eating frog eggs (gasp!) and other newly hatched tadpoles, the algae should keep them more than satisfied – at least until they become adults. That’s when they become carnivorous critters with a hankering for bugs, rodents, reptiles, birds, small fish and even an occasional bat.

From Tadpoles to Adulthood

While they’re in their tadpole – or pollywog – stage, these tiny gilled critters live exclusively in the water. But after about one year, the tadpoles will start to grow legs. Shortly thereafter, they grow arms. As their tails shorten, they develop lungs and their gills disappear. The tadpole, now several years old depending on where it’s growing up, has finally transformed into a froglet that can make the leap from water to dry land.

Once your tadpole has grown into an adult, you can expect that bad boy to be around for 8 to 10 years. Enjoy your new pond pal! Ribbit!

Pond Talk: Have you ever been to a frog-jumping contest? If so, tell us about it!

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What happens to the frogs and toads during the winter? | Pond & Lake Q&A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

What happens to the frogs and toads during the winter?
Dustin – Huntsville, UT

As the temperatures continue to drop you will begin to notice that your pond, once full of life, is now starting to look like abandoned arctic tundra. Gone are the cool summer nights spent on your patio and deck watching fireflies tastefully illuminate your lawn while being serenaded by a choir of frogs and crickets.

While you are inside cuddled under blankets for the season where do your web-footed friends spend their winter? The winter retreat of choice will depend on the type of frog you have hanging around your pond. You will commonly find either some variety of frog frequenting the shallow areas or shoreline of your pond and toads farther inland rummaging about your gardens or front lawn. Both are very similar but can usually be identified by a few visual characteristics. Frogs tend to have smooth glossy skin that feels slimy to the touch while toads have dry lumpy skin. The eyes of a frog tend to protrude further from its head than those of a toad. A toad will usually have poison sacks located behind their eyes which help prevent them from becoming a snack for larger predators.

As frogs are cold blooded they will begin to slow down as their body temperatures drop. When winter arrives they will go into a state of dormancy and wait out the cold weather. The hibernation strategy varies between species of frogs. Toads tend to bury themselves in leaves or mud while frogs can pass the winter at the bottom of your pond below the ice. Frogs produce a type of glucose in their bodies that will allow them to freeze solid and still be able to survive. As the temperatures begin to rise in the spring their hearts will begin to beat again and they will begin to thaw. When they are once again mobile they will actively search for a place to mate.

Since frogs have an arsenal of survival skills to get them through the winter there is not much you have to do to help them survive the cooler months. Instead focus on keeping yourself warm and healthy and try your best to enjoy the snow and beautiful landscapes this winter brings

POND TALK: Do frogs frequent your pond? How do they adapt to the changing season in your area?

I see the little black tadpoles in my pond every year how do they get from tiny little tadpoles to full grown frogs? – Pond & Lake Q & A

I see the little black tadpoles in my pond every year how do they get from tiny little tadpoles to full grown frogs?

I see the little black tadpoles in my pond every year how do they get from tiny little tadpoles to full grown frogs? Troy – Demotte, IN

Anyone that has had a pond or is near water has probably heard the call of the bull frog. The low call heard that keeps us up at night, is from the male frog during mating season. Soon after, up to 20,000 eggs are laid and tiny tadpoles appear and begin their journey to adulthood.

Tadpoles will begin feeding on algae or other forms of plant life in their area but may also eat eggs or compete for food against other species of frogs if necessary. Since the tadpole stage offers little defense mechanism, many of the tadpoles are not able to survive, though not all are lost as there are a couple ways they are able to escape danger. Coloration makes it easy for them to blend in with surroundings. When you first walk up to the pond you may not notice them right away. At least not until you disturb them and they begin to swim. This movement is defense number two. Their small mass and quick tail allows them to swim hastily away from the opposing threat. If by some chance their tail can’t get out of the way quick enough, have no fear, the tadpole is able to just grow a new one.

As the tadpole continues to growth it will begin to develop eyes, gills, mouth and teeth to continue feeding. After some rapid growth spurts the tadpole can reach up to 6” in length before growing any legs. This process generally takes up to 3 years to complete.

Finally the legs begin to grow. The back legs start first and then the front legs. Now the tadpoles become more mobile, they lose their gills, develop lungs and a hard skeleton. At this point you can see the tadpole begin to take the shape of a frog. The last thing to go is the tail.

The growth process continues as the frog can now feed on insects and other tasty treats that may pass by until the coming spring when they too will join in the spring time calling.

Aerate your pond

Where do frogs go in the winter? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

Nope, frogs don't turn to stone in the winter.

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: What happens to my frogs in the winter? – Sue in Michigan

A: They ribbit and hop in your pond all spring, summer and fall, but when the cold weather comes, your frogs seem to disappear. Don’t worry – they don’t croak! They simply take a long winter nap.

There are more than 5,000 described species of frogs living on just about every surface of the planet. From the frigid Arctic Circle to the hottest deserts and everywhere in between – including your back yard. These welcome additions to any pond have evolved a well-known strategy to survive environmental extremes: They hibernate. Frogs that live in temperate climates with cold winters, like those throughout much of the United States, enter into a dormant state of sleep while living off their body fat reserves.

Aquatic frogs, like the leopard frog and the American bull frog, typically hibernate underwater. Because their skin can absorb oxygen, they lie just below the surface among aquatic plants where they’ll be safe from predators and frosty temperatures. An aeration system will add oxygen to your pond and create a hospitable habitat for your amphibian friends – and your finned friends, too.

Terrestrial frogs, like American toads, will hibernate on land. The ones that can dig will create a comfortable burrow beneath the frost line and sleep all winter; the ones that can’t dig will find safe hiding places, like hollowed-out logs, between rocks or beneath a pile of leaves, to protect them from weather and predators. Incredibly, these frogs won’t freeze to death; though they may partially freeze in very cold climates, a high concentration of glucose in their organs prevents them from freezing completely. When spring comes, the frozen portions thaw and they’re ready to get back to eating and reproducing.

Frogs are just one of dozens of critters that are drawn to water features. By providing a habitat with food, water and shelter, you can draw wildlife to your pond – which will enhance your enjoyment of it even more.

POND TALK: Do you have frogs in your decorative pond?

Controlling Frog Population – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of Frog

Q: My pond is filled with hundreds of frogs, really loud frogs. What is the best way to decrease the frog population?
- Diane of Metamora, IL

A: Ahhh, frogs. Its nice to have a few frogs here or there to jump in the pond as you walk by, but if the population gets over bearing, all of a sudden they become a huge annoyance. Frogs can be very loud, especially when there is an excessive amount of frogs present. If you would like to keep the frogs population down here are a couple of things you can do:

1.) Frogs love to hide in cattails or any other emergent weeds around a pond’s shoreline. A clear shore will usually have a lesser population of frogs. Simply use the Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS Combo to control shoreline emergent weeds and grasses.

2.) Bass – Simply adding bass to your pond is a great way to control excessive amounts of frogs. Bass will utilize the frogs as another food source.

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