For those who are interested in raising tadpoles as pets or perhaps on a farm to help control the insect population, it is important to understand what do tadpoles eat. To know the diet of tadpoles is to ensure that they will grow up to become healthier frogs.
The very name “tadpole” is essentially a combination of “toad” and “head” which has been used to describe the young frog embryos. These embryos will grow quickly under the right conditions, but they must receive a considerable amount of care in order for them to grow up into frogs.
Tadpoles start life inside eggs that are covered with a jelly-type substance which actually protects them from many predators before they hatch. The eggs tend to clump together on top of the water until the tadpoles hatch and begin their lives in the pond. Tadpoles develop tails and will swim about underwater finding food for about a month until they start to develop hind legs.
At this point, the tadpoles will also start to develop lungs that will take the place of their gills and they will begin to breathe the air around them. After a few months, their tails will disappear and their front legs will start to grow as they become fully mature frogs.
Tadpoles are considered a food source for great blue herons, bass, snapping turtles, raccoons and a host of other creatures. So, the proper care of tadpoles is important for their survival as they are considered to be on the lower part of the food chain.
What They Eat in the Wild
In the wild, the main diet of tadpoles is small insects that are often found around the ponds and other, similar places. However, tadpoles are very voracious creatures which mean that anything small enough to fit into their mouths that they can find in the wild may be considered food. This also means that if sources of food are in short supply, the tadpoles will actually turn and start feasting on each other so you will need to be careful when raising them in captivity.
In the wild, answering the question of what do tadpoles eat starts with very small insects along with a considerable number of other food sources that include algae, micro plants, and the small grasses and other plants found in their habitat. They will also eat the larva of insects, worms and other food sources in the water.
What About in Captivity?
If you are raising tadpoles, then finding a lot of small insects for them to eat can be somewhat difficult and rather expensive compared to other food sources. However, there are other foodstuffs that tadpoles love to eat just as much as small bugs and maybe even more.
What follows are just some of the many different foods that you can provide to tadpoles. However, it is important to note that after tadpoles hatch from their eggs, they are mainly vegetarians for the first few days of their lives until they start to develop legs at which point they become carnivorous and you will need to add some animal protein to the mix or they will start to consume each other in the tank. These are the real answers to what do Tadpoles eat:
Lettuce: This may be a tadpole’s favorite food. However, you do not want to feed it to them in raw lettuce form because it is too hard for their mouths to properly swallow and their digestive system to handle. Instead, you’ll need to boil the lettuce for at least 10 minutes so that it becomes soft and then chop it up into very small parts so that it can be easily consumed.
The key is how fine that you chop up the lettuce because pieces that are too large to fit inside a tadpole’s mouth are often left uneaten. The result will be having starving tadpoles that are surrounded by their favorite food that is left unconsumed.
Spinach: This is another favorite of tadpoles as spinach provides them with much of the nutrition they need to survive. It should be served in a similar manner as lettuce so that they can consume it without difficulty.
Meal Worms: This is another cheap source of food that you can use to feed your tadpoles. As with the lettuce, it is best to chop up the meal worms into very small pieces so that the tadpoles can consume them without issue.
Egg Yolk: This is an interesting food source that is generally more expensive, but does provide plenty of protein any may be easier to prepare than lettuce or spinach. The yolk itself is already soft, so all it needs is to be dripped into the tank so that it can be consumed by the tadpoles.
Baby Food: Yes, you can actually feed tadpoles baby food as well. It will need to be spread around in small chunks in the tank where it will eventually start to fall apart so that the tadpoles can start eating. The amount you need to purchase will actually be very little to get started once they mature enough to start consuming protein.
How Often Do You Feed a Tadpole?
Tadpoles are very voracious, so you will need to feed them on a daily basis. They will generally continue to eat until there is nothing left, so you may want to feed them twice a day. While there is no exact timetable on what do tadpole eat and when, there are some simple ways you can tell if you are feeding them often enough.
Clarity of the Water: If the tank where you keep your tadpoles starts to get dirty because of leftover food, then you know that you are feeding them too much at one time. While they are voracious eaters, the belly of a tadpole can only hold so much food and they will not eat anymore. You’ll want to cut back a little each day until you see virtually all the food you’ve provided has been consumed.
Fewer Tadpoles: If the tadpoles are not getting enough to eat, they will start consuming each other. So, a quick tadpole count is necessary if you are seeing that the food you have provided them is fully consumed. Fewer tadpoles means that you’ll need to start feeding them more often so that they will turn their attention back to the food and not each other.
It will not take long to find the right amount of food to provide for tadpoles if you are observant. Generally speaking, you will want to give them a pinch or two every day so that it will not pollute the water. Gradually, you’ll want to start adding a little more as they grow and mature, but still not too much.
Raising Them as Pets
If you have decided to raise tadpoles as pets, then you should be able to answer when someone asks you what do Tadpoles eat. You will need to recreate the conditions that tadpoles have in the wild in order to be successful. So, you’ll want to start out with a large fish bowl or suitable container and fill it to the halfway point with water that is free of chlorine. You can use tap water if you keep it out in the sunlight for at least five to seven days so that any chlorine or chemicals will dissolve away. However, you can purchase purified water that is chlorine free if you do not want to wait a week.
Inside the tank, you’ll want to place some stones and branches that give the tadpoles a place to stand once they have developed their legs. You can keep the container inside the home or outside in the garden, back porch or other place where they can enjoy the sunlight. About once per week you will need to add new water to the container, but apart from feeding them tadpoles are fairly easy to take care of and make a great pet for children.
They make good pets not only because of what do tadpoles eat which shows the different varieties of foods that they consume, but also because they are quite educational as children can see how a tadpole becomes a frog in a relatively short period of time. Plus, they are far more interactive than goldfish or other aquatic creatures and can be gently handled once they become frogs.
In order to properly raise these creatures, it is vital to understand what do tadpole eat, how do they evolve into frogs, what type of environmental conditions are appropriate for them and how to keep potential predators away so that they can properly mature. For those who want to have a pet for their child that is educational and fun, tadpoles are a great choice as they are far less expensive to care for than a dog or cat over their lifetimes. Plus, once they fully mature into frogs, many of them can be let loose to explore the surrounding countryside if you live in a rural area. You will need to check with local laws about urban areas and frogs before getting tadpoles as your pet.