A garden pond constructed using a pond liner with at least one sloping edge to the pond will make an ideal wildlife haven in your garden attracting creatures such as frogs or toads. Please refer to an earlier Pond Liners Blog, ‘Add Pond to make Garden Wildlife Friendly’, which gives tips on constructing a wildlife pond to attract wildlife into your garden and pond. Although it may no longer be the season for frog spawning and tadpoles swimming about in your garden pond, you may want to know how to prepare yourself to watch next seasons tadpoles grow and develop into fully grown frogs.
Observing the metamorphosis of a tadpole to a frog is easily achieved and gives children a unique opportunity to get hands on experience with the frog life cycle. Gradually tadpoles change into frogs or toads. This usually takes two to four months. To get a close view of the change you will need a small aquarium, which can be kept in doors.
Tadpoles are easy to collect from your pond (if you collect them from another pond or stream, it is advisable to re-introduce the grown frog back to the same habitat it came from and not into your own garden pond). Tadpoles are happiest if their new environment is like the one where they come from. If the pond where you collect them from is cold, then the aquarium needs to be kept cool, making sure it is not in direct sunlight. Therefore, best to avoid keeping your aquarium on a windowsill, which receives direct sunlight even if only for a short period of the day.
As tadpoles grow they will need to be fed. In a pond they live off microorganisms that grow on stones and leaves. As these won’t be found in your aquarium you can feed them small pieces of steamed lettuce leaves. It is important that their water remains clean so be careful not to over feed. Take out any uneaten food every day. If the water gets dirty and starts to smell, change it. Make sure you refill the aquarium with water of the same temperature.
As tadpoles grow bigger they will start to scavenge, eating worms a slugs in their natural habitat. At this stage you can supplement their diet with tiny pieces of meat. Again remove any uneaten food as the meat will turn water smelly very quickly.
If you choose to rather observe the metamorphosis of tadpoles in your garden pond, don’t be alarmed if you notice them being preyed on by many other creatures. Tadpoles have many predators such as fish, birds, newts and diving beetles. I saw Jackdaws swoop down and make a meal of tadpoles (so do also make sure your pond liner has sufficient edging to protect it from visiting claws).
Happy tadpole observing next spring!