Catching and Raising Salamanders and Toads!

I first got the idea for this post from Erin Burton’s post “Tadpoles: Catching, Raising, and Observing Metamorphosis” on her blog, Unbound Roots. I knew that I would be catching and raising both salamanders and frogs over the summer, so I planned to do a similar post on my adventure!

If you are new here and don’t know much about me, I am an avid herper. Don’t get the wrong idea, this is someone who goes out and actively looks for reptiles and amphibians. What can I say…I love the creepy-crawlies! While my boyfriend was in Wyoming with me this summer, we were trying to find as many reptile/amphibian species as we could. Among the list of snakes and lizards, this also included frogs, toads, and tiger salamanders.

Our two main goals were tiger salamanders and plains spadefoot toads. I knew where to go to find both of these, but because we went early on in the summer, the majority of what we found were tadpoles. Because of this, we decided to keep and raise some of the tadpoles to observe the metamorphosis stages and then release them once they reached adulthood.

We were able to collect nearly all of our new friends in one afternoon of wading around in a couple of small ponds (I wore my Tevas the entire time…I’m not kidding, they are the BEST ADVENTURE SHOES EVER…read about them here!). We found a lot more tadpoles than we actually collected. We tried to focus on mostly picking salamanders and spadefoot toads. We were extremely lucky that we collected our pals when we did because the small pool of spadefoot tadpoles actually dried up the following day, and many of them did not make it!

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Watching the frogs and toads metamorphose was really awesome. The first step was sprouting hind legs. Eventually, they would sprout front legs as well, and it was really amazing to see the front legs move around inside the skin prior to popping out. After this, the tail would be absorbed until they looked like tiny adults. At this stage, we released them back into their natural habitat. See the slideshow below to watch how the tadpoles progressed through metamorphosis!

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We were able to find tadpole salamanders in two different areas. It was really amazing to watch them mature and then develop their patterns. The difference between a tadpole and an adult is striking!

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Here, you can see the striking difference between a tiger salamander tadpole and adult!

Throughout our time with our salamander tadpoles, we were able to watch their external gills slowly disappear as they made the change from water to land. After they became adults, seeing the patterns develop was my favorite part. The salamander pictured above was an abnormally green individual, whereas most are normally more yellow in color. See the slideshow below for a little insight into the metamorphosis!

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While we raised our salamanders, we were also able to find several adults in the wild that we were able to photograph and compare!

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Prior to this summer, I had never had the opportunity to raise tadpoles before. It was really amazing to observe the changes over time. When I (eventually) have kids, this will definitely be an activity we do as a family! There is so much learning that is involved!

Have you or would you ever raise tadpoles? Why or why not?

If you’ve made it this far, and I sincerely hope you have, keep an eye out for next week! I will be announcing a giveaway! I hope you all participate!

Salamanders and Toads
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49 thoughts on “Catching and Raising Salamanders and Toads!

  1. josypheen

    I LOVE this!

    I did this as a child with frogs (we never had salamanders in rural England) and I had totally forgotten about how fun it is to watch their metamorphosis. I hope I’ll be able to have kids and share a similar experience with them one day.

    Also, I LOVE those photos! The patterns on the salamanders are awesome and I love their little grins!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For most amphibians, they do just fine being taken out of their habitat. I always make sure to return them to the exact spot that I took them from. And I also make sure that there are no laws preventing the capture of them. For these amphibians, it is not dangerous for them to be taken and returned to their habitats. πŸ™‚

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      1. They are really easy! We just kept their water semi-clean (we brought them home in water that they were captured in and then slowly diluted it with purified water when it got dirty) and then fed them tadpole pellets (bought at a pet store), and once they were old enough, switched them over to crickets! If we had guppies, we would have fed the salamanders those. The really green salamander tadpole really liked to munch on the frog tadpoles, so we ended up needing to separate them!

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  2. Unbound Roots

    I saw your title and thought, “Hey, that sounds familiar!” I love that you did this post, and now I’m making an annual goal to find salamander tadpoles. I’ve never seen them before seeing your pictures (which are amazing as always). We have a hard time finding salamanders in general here, so I’m assuming it’ll be a chore to find them, but i think we can do it. Thanks so much for the shout-out, and for another great article. Awesome job, McKenna. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! Definitely try to find salamander tadpoles! They are SO CUTE! I love their little external gills! They can definitely be difficult to find. Just make sure to know your state laws about them. Here in Wyoming, they are fine to capture, but I’m not sure about Minnesota. You also have 6 different species there whereas we only have 1! I’m sure if you ask around, someone will know a good place to find them. πŸ™‚ Thank you for your comment as always, Erin! πŸ™‚

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  3. Oh you have taken me back to my childhood and brought back so many great memories for me! I used to catch tadpoles ( we would call them β€œPolywogs”) all the time and watch them change into frogs and toads and I too thought it was a beautiful thing to watch. πŸ˜‰. Thank you for this.

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    1. It is so amazing to watch the transformation! And so worth it! I always called frog tadpoles “pollywogs” once they got their legs in, but I looked it up online, and it turns out that the terms “tadpoles” and “pollywogs” are interchangeable! I go back and forth between the terms still! I think pollywog is a much cuter word for them! Thank you for reading! πŸ™‚

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  4. When I was growing up… I lived out in the country. I was always collecting toad/frog eggs in my fish aquarium from all the little water areas that would soon dry up (they would lay these eggs in potholes sometimes and quickly would dry out). I so enjoyed watching these go from eggs to tadpoles… then to frogs! I’ve never done it with a salamander (in fact I’ve really only seen one salamander in my life). That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing… and bringing back so many memories.

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    1. Yes! Frogs and toads are funny about that. They sometimes lay their eggs in the WORST spot possible! I’m glad you were able to go out and raise them. I’m sure it was a lot of fun when you were younger! πŸ™‚ Salamanders are definitely a lot harder to find. It took us a little while to find the ones that we did! They don’t metamorphose quite as much as frogs do, but it is still really amazing to watch all of the changes happen. I’m glad I was able to bring back some memories for you! πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for reading! πŸ™‚

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  5. This is a great post for me! Why? Because I love Amphibians!! I grew up in the UK and was (am) amphibian nuts! I always had pet tadpoles, frogs, toads and newts. I even managed to gather a few pounds together to buy a Tiger salamander when I was very young. I believe that being part of the metamorphosis from spawn to frog really cemented my love for wildlife, which ultimately led to me helping to conserve wildlife when ever I get the chance. I’ll be happy to be your 559th follower. If you check out my blog you might be surprised to see zero amphibians (a couple of reptiles) but my next post will be about poison dart frogs.

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  6. During the spring time (in the Southern part of Switzerland), we are volontering for the WWF to safe the toads and frogs crossing the roads to reach the “mating” ponds…
    https://claudinegiovannoni.com/2017/03/23/why-does-this-happen/
    It’s needed much much more information to get people drive carefully and to act with consciousness towards these little beautiful creatures, already belonging to the endagered species. :-)c

    Liked by 1 person

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