Ellen Finney's picture


What do tadpoles feed on?
What feeds on tadpoles?

I have rescued from my lawn, a clump of frog spawn, it is now very large and not long off hatching out. The spawn are in a pond at the moment in my garden. I would like to look after them and to observe them until they grow legs, then I think best to take them to a larger pond where they should have a better chance for their future.



anonymous spotter's picture


They feed on algae and other veg matter when young, then progress to a carnivorous diet (including, sadly, each other).
You can put small (very) bits of meat in the water as they grow, but note that this will reduce the oxygen as it rots, and can cause other problems. Probably best to leave them to it!
Don't translocate tadpoles without a lot of thought: if they have any nasty diseases (and amphibians are sadly prone to several), you can introduce it into otherwise clean habitats. You can also translocate invasive weeds by mistake.

Kluut's picture

To begin with you will see

To begin with you will see them grazing algae from any and all surfaces - they seem to be kissing everything.
I have no idea what modern herpetologists use to rear tadpoles, but many moons ago we used green water to start with - nearly fill a jam jar with water, add a small piece of sheep manure and several lettuce leaves - leave to brew for a few days or so, depending on weather. Once they became carnivorous the simplest food we used was slugs and snails.

For more detiled information, take a look on a herp' website/forum - they are amazingly common pets (non-native species in the main).

the naturalist man's picture

Frog spawn

I agree with the advice already given. Indeed unless there is a tremendous amount of spawn I'd leave it in your garden, tadpoles are very good at finding their own food. Just a few things to consider:

Have you got fish? If you have remove the spawn now, as soon as they hatch the fish will eat the tadpoles.

As mentioned the tadpoles are herbivores till they start getting legs, almost all ponds will have enough algae to feed them; I've seen tadpoles living in nothing more than a puddle.

Get a cheap net from an aquarium shop or even a nick-nack shop at the beach. Sweep it through your pond. If you see lots of small creatures there will be enough in your pond for the tadpoles to eat. If you catch any large vicious looking creatures then be aware they may eat your tadpoles but I doubt they would eat them all.

Finally, assuming the tadpoles grow large enough to leave the pond, make sure they have some means of getting out. If you have at least one gently sloping side then no problem. If the sides are all very steep then put some stones at one end so the tadpoles can climb out. We had to do this at York Cemetery where old baths were sunk into the ground as a source of water for the local wildlife.

Good luck and let us know how they get on.

Graham Banwell

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