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