If you’ve been following along with us, you’ll know we’ve been doing life science this year. We’ve had a lot of visitors in our house because of this including worms, pill bugs, snails, caterpillars/butterflies, etc. The biggest visitor has become a long term pet now and if you’ve seen the title of this blog post I’m sure you can guess what it kind of animal we’ve collected.
We got a frog hatchery kit from Home Science Tools to use when we hit amphibians. How cool is that? It gives you everything you need to hatch tadpoles, including the tapoles themselves, all the way into frogs. It comes with a animal keeper, tadpole/froglet food, a cleaning thing, a coupon voucher to mail in for your tadpoles when your ready for them, and a huge instruction manual.
If your interested in doing this as well I have two big pieces of advice. First, you can’t release these frogs once you have them. They are not native to where you live and should not be released, even if you happen to have some water near by to put them in. They need to become your pets or you need to know where to give them away to, like a local school, library, daycare, or even to other homeschoolers who might want a pet frog! If you are unable to keep them, and unable to donate them, they must be destroyed and instructions are included for how to do so humanely. Second, the kit gives you everything you need for tadpoles.. not frogs! The frogs, depending on how many make it to adulthood, will need a much larger space to live. They also need live food so if crickets creep you out, frogs might not be a good idea. They can live for YEARS as well, so make sure they will be a long term pet.
Now that the formal stuff is out of the way.. meet our tadpoles!
We were given 10 eggs to hatch, although I totally just had to recount from the picture because I thought we had less. They came in January inside a water filled plastic bag which was inside a padded envelope. After making sure the water was the same temperature as the kit we had set up, the eggs were transferred. Not all the eggs hatched, but by February 1st we had tadpoles.
The frogs we received were leopard frogs. As you can see, not all the tadpoles hatched at the same time, and a few eggs never hatched at all. I was grateful for this because I did not want 10 frogs! When they first hatched, it was very boring to watch. Newly hatched tadpoles don’t move around.
But the tadpoles grew fast. We had six tadpoles who hatched and lived, although one had a crooked tail and seemed to swim in circles. I started to test the waters to see who wanted a pet frog. I told Green Bubbles we would only be able to keep three. There was a lot of interest. Somewhere in the timeline above I realized I should have read through ALL the directions instead of just the parts I needed at the time. We ended up with two distinct groups of tadpoles, two larger and four smaller. One day, between 9 and 14 days, I noticed our swim in circle friend was missing. At first, I thought I might have accidently thrown him out while cleaning the water even though I was always very careful. He was the runt and had something wrong though so I wasn’t very concerned. When the second tadpole went missing without a trace, I was very confused. The third missing tadpole left evidence behind… his tail. I read through the rest of the instructions at this point and learned that larger tadpoles will eat smaller tadpoles and you should separate them if you get this. I started over feeding the tadpoles to try and prevent the last little one from being eaten too. I wanted three frogs after all! This plan seemed to have worked.
When the tiny little back legs showed up on the largest, tadpole eating froglet, it was so exciting! After weeks and weeks, we were finally starting to see the change. We watched the legs grow longer and longer and then suddenly, there were arms! He was looking like a real frog now. I put the floating rock in for the froglets to climb onto when they were able. The tail shrunk and we had two frogs up on the rock ready for their new tank!
We named the frogs at this point. Darth for the oldest, who ate the other tadpoles. Jabba for the 2nd because he was always eating when he was a tadpole. (This is ironic now since he doesn’t eat much as a frog and spends most of his time jumping and hiding from me while Darth gets all the crickets.) The smallest tadpole we named Obi because he used the force to stay alive when Darth was on the hunt. We noticed some red on his belly and thought Darth had actually gotten him and Obi just managed to survive. It wasn’t until he was a little larger that we realized there was something wrong with Obi.
From what I can tell, his gills were on the outside of his body. This was obvious once the other two frogs were removed and he was the last remaining tadpole in the tank. As he grew legs I watched him. He looked very different then the other tadpoles. We had a talk with Green Bubbles about Obi maybe not being able to make it as a frog. Green Bubbles knew he would though and wouldn’t hear otherwise so we let him continue his metamorphous. When the tiny frog arms started to grow out of the red area, I was worried. The other tadpoles just suddenly had fully grown arms. Instead we got to watch Obi’s grow longer and longer.
And then, one day, Obi’s tail started to get smaller and the red gills were gone! He still has an opening where the skin isn’t all solid on his chest, but I think he’ll be ok. In a few more days he’ll be added to the larger frog tank where he will get to rejoin Darth and Jabba and I’ll get the chance to see if he’ll be able to move on land enough to catch crickets. I like his odds though. And Green Bubbles never had any doubt.