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We had lots of tadpoles in our pond last year. Will they still be tadpoles this year or can we expect more frogs? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We had lots of tadpoles in our pond last year. Will they still be tadpoles this year or can we expect more frogs?

Q: We had lots of tadpoles in our pond last year. Will they still be tadpoles this year or can we expect more frogs?

Lynn – Beecher, IL

A: What would a summer evening on your pond or lake be without bullfrogs? Let’s discuss how to distinguish bullfrog and toad tadpoles and understand how they develop into adults.

What Came First: the Egg or Frog

Both bullfrogs and toads reproduce by laying eggs in the water. Female bullfrogs deposit their eggs on the pond surface in large round clusters or masses protected by aquatic plants. One bullfrog can lay up to 20,000 eggs, which are then fertilized by the males. Toads create strands of dark-colored eggs that look like black pearls attached to foliage and leaves near the water’s edge.

After 7 to 10 days, frog or toad tadpoles hatch from their eggs. Bullfrog tadpoles appear dark green to black in color and they’re big – much larger than other species of frog or toad. They also mature more slowly when compared to their toad counterparts. In fact, bullfrogs will stay in their tadpole stage for almost three years before transforming into adults.

From Aquatic to Terrestrial

A toad’s and frog’s physical development from tadpole (or pollywog) to adult are similar. As tadpoles, they live exclusively in the water and nibble on aquatic plants for nourishment. At first, their bodies are long and narrow and include a tail where they store fat when food is in short supply during the winter months. Eventually, the tadpoles will start to grow back legs, followed by their front legs. And then their tails shorten and disappear, and they develop lungs. Before long they’re full-fledged adults.

Survive and Thrive

As with most critters in the wild, the strongest will survive – and tadpoles are no different. Out of the thousands of pollywogs that are born, only a small percentage make it to adulthood. They have, however, evolved some survival traits that protect them from predators, including their camouflage color that makes them excellent at hiding.

You can help boost their survival numbers by adding pond dye or installing a decoy device, like an Owl Decoy or Nite Guard Solar®, designed to chase away rodents and snakes. With its timed head rotation powered by a built-in solar panel, the Owl Decoy will help repel nuisance birds and other small critters during the day. And the Nite Guard Solar® LED lights that resemble a predator’s glowing eyes will keep your pond – and your toads and frogs – safe at night.

Pond Talk: What kinds of frogs and toads live in your pond or lake?

Shade Your Pond From Predators - The Pond Guy® PondShade™ Pond Dye

 

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

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Happy New Year from The Pond Guy(r)

How does a bullfrog tadpole grow into a frog? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How does a bullfrog tadpole grow into a frog?

Q: How does a bullfrog tadpole grow into a frog?

Dan – Clovis, CA

A: What would a pond or lake be without bullfrogs? These croaking amphibians – which can grow to 8 inches in length and weigh up to 1½ pounds – reside near water sources, like lakes, ponds, rivers and bogs. The brown-green frogs with the scientific name Lithobates catesbeianus prefer warm, still, shallow water.

Through their seven- to nine-year life cycle, bullfrogs pass through several stages of development. Ever wonder what happens during those stages? Keep reading, because here’s what you need to know.

From Eggs to Tadpoles

Bullfrog breeding, which happens externally, takes place in May to July in the north and from February to October in the south. The female adult bullfrog, which sports a white throat during the mating season, deposits as many as 20,000 eggs in a foamy film in quiet, protected waters; the male, which has a yellow throat during mating rituals, then fertilizes them. Four days later, tiny tadpoles emerge. The little guys are able to fend for themselves right away and will stay in their tadpole stage for almost three years before transforming into adults.

Pollywog Waltz

While they’re in their tadpole – or pollywog – stage, the tiny gilled critters live exclusively in the water and nibble on water plants for nourishment. At first, their bodies, which can measure up to 6¾ inches long, are long and narrow and include a tail where they store fat when food is in short supply during the winter months. After about one year, the tadpoles will start to grow legs. Shortly thereafter, they grow arms. And then, their tails shorten, they develop lungs, and their gills disappear. The tadpoles have transformed into froglets.

From Aquatic to Terrestrial

After that two- to three-year tadpole-to-frog developmental period, the bullfrog ’s final growth stage is when the froglet hops from the water to dry land. Thanks to its fully developed lungs, the now-carnivorous and aggressive frog can now breathe oxygen, and that gives it the freedom to emerge from its watery first home to the shore where it can hunt for anything that will fit in its mouth, including insects, small mammals, birds, fish and other frogs. The adult bullfrog rests by day, and defends and hunts its 3 to 25 meters of shoreline territory by night.

Finally, after three to five long years of growth and development, the tadpole has become an adult bullfrog and reached sexual maturity – and the life cycle begins again. Bullfrogs in the wild live to about 7 to 9 years old; in captivity, they can live as long as 13 years.

Now the next time you hear your bullfrogs croaking, you’ll have a new appreciation for them!

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite part of having bullfrogs in your lake or pond?