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Toad Tadpole Factoids

Origin

Shallow temporary puddles

Maximum Size

About an inch
Color Jet black

Housing

Water -- not picky.  Usually shallow.

Security

Mass production.  Nasty taste.  Black camouflage.

Temperature

50 to 95

Attitude

None
Foods Not picky

LA
5-7-06

Off to a Slow Start:   Well, we sort of got distracted on the way to building our toad tadpole page.  May is the primo month to capture these guys, and we started doing other stuff in the meantime.  Here it is May again (after two years), so it's back to the grindstone.

LA
Evidently several different batches due to their size variation.

Bottom Feeders:   If you crush some flake foods in your fingers and rinse it into their water, your toad tadpoles will scoot around the bottom nibbling up these little orts and ends.  HBH makes an evidently tasty tadpole food they sometimes seem to enjoy.  However, any food you give them probably tastes better than pond scum.

LA
Several hatches comprise this batch.

LA
The bigger guys were born earlier than the little guys.

LA
In the wild, they would eat algae similar to what's growing on the sides of this aquarium.

Side Feeders:   Toad tadpoles nosh on algae and detritus in their natural habitats (truck tire ruts).  They'll rasp at green water plants also.  They eat algae but much prefer most other foods.  They grow faster in captivity because of the better food and usually cleaner and often warmer water.  In the wild, their shallow ponds heat up fast on sunny days.

LA
The bulk of them come as close to the surface as possible.

Top Feeders:   Once toad tadpoles realize they can find food at the surface, they come right to the top -- about five minutes after you add the flake food.  They evidently smell it.  Perhaps they even see it.  You can see them grab specific bits of food.

 

LA
You can feed them these spirulina wafers.  They grudgingly eat them.

LA
They're not exactly jumping on these HBH frog/tadpole pellets either.

LA
Flake food sunk specifically for them. 

Avoid Overfeeding:   Looks like quite a bit of extra food here.  However, there's about a hundred toad tadpoles in this 10 gallon tank.  If any of this pile is still there tomorrow, we will siphon it out.  Snails make quicker-picker-uppers but they are faster eaters than the baby tadpoles and will get all the food first.

LA
You'll usually find toad tadpoles in shallow waters such as these.

LA
Here's a typical tadpole hunter at work.

LA
But he was after the much larger bullfrog tadpoles.  No confusing the two.

 

LA
Some of the visiting neighbors from Canada.

LA
You're unlikely to find toad tadpoles in deeper water.

LA
Keep your eyes open when tromping around in the wild.

LA
Back at Aqualand these toad tadpoles are dining on one huge flake.  Snail eggs below.

LA
I had to hold the flake to keep it from floating away.  You can see the lips on the top guy.

LA
Then they decided to snack on my finger.

LA
Outdoors again by the river at a temporary pond about eight blocks south of Aqualand.

In the Wild Again:   We took another tack and headed down along the Des Moines River.  Every spring (April, May, June) we get enough rain to overflow its banks.  (In 1993 the Riverview Park mentioned earlier was under an extra 14 feet of overflow.)  We see these temporary ponds every year.  The bike path you see in the background was only four feet under water in 1993 -- quite sufficient to discourage most joggers.

LA
We saw quite a few toad tadpoles in this shallow pond (and numerous little 0.75-inch fish).

The Season:   You can see a bit of cottonwood "fluff" in the middle.  This gives you another idea of what time of year you can find toad tadpoles.  (Cottonwood trees grow along rivers because they can stand up to occasional long-term inundations.  Unfortunately, they are shallow rooted and tend to fall over if they're wet long enough.)

LA
When a few of these babies start floating down the river, all the boat clubs hove to.

LA
Only one day later, there's an extra foot of shore line and tadpoles are riffling the surface.

Toad Eggs:   We were researching "toad ponds" in hopes of finding toad eggs.  We've seen them but never captured them by photo.  Female toads lay very long easily distinguishable strings of black eggs.  Their eggs number in the thousands and exceed several feet in length.

LA
Here's another longer pond which was dis-connected from the river about two weeks ago.

LA
At the east end we found lots of frog tadpoles but no toad tadpoles.

Meanwhile, Back at Aqualand:   The photos below give you an idea of how our captive toad tadpoles are faring.  They're decreasing in numbers because people keep buying them.  They really want frog tadpoles but wind up taking a dozen or so toad tadpoles instead.

LA
None chowing on the sides now because they already ate all the algae.

LA
This guy's chewing on turtle foods.  Do we see legs starting to develop?

LA
Next day the turtle pellets fungused.  Guess they didn't like them after all.

LA
Next day.  Instead of continuing to evaporate, the temporary ponds are connected again.

LA
The extra H2O attracted this mallard hen who was quacking to beat the band.

LA
She quieted right down as soon as this Drake dropped in.

Surf's Up:   Our Army Corps of Engineers raised the level of the Des Moines River overnight.  The jogging trail to the left goes under the far bridge as well as under the water.  The now connected formerly nearly dry ponds now comprise one three-foot deep, very long biotope.  This time I brought collecting equipment (actually, basics are always in my car's trunk) and harvested beau coup tadpoles.  Unfortunately, none were toad tadpoles.

LA
The harvest -- lots of frog tadpoles and lots of tiny unidentified "minnows."

Harvesting the Pond:   We wore shoes suitable for aquatic research.  They've been under water many times.  However, we were not expecting to go into waist-deep water.  Keeping an extendable pool net in your trunk makes the job easier.  We brought several containers, but wound up using only one -- a one gallon ice cream bucket.  We "captured" water boatmen, pond snails, and innumerable maple tree seeds.  Not sure what to call the little "minnows."  They sported pudgy little bellies.  We may be able to ID them after they get a few more miles on them.  Unfortunately, we caught aught toad tadpoles.

LA
Looks like those little "minnows" were baby carp -- a true minnow.  A very hungry minnow.

LA
Less then two weeks after we started, the toadpoles are starting to grow legs.

LA
In the meantime, The pond has increased in size ten fold.

LA
Two days later, the jogging trail, the temporary pond, and the river have become as one.

Almost Final Results:   Once the toad tadpoles metamorphosize into toadlets, they have few enemies.  However, I've seen groups of grackles (not near as many as you see in a Hitchcock movie) swoop down and feast on the new toadlets.  They're smaller than a breeder-size cricket, so it takes several to make a full meal.  LA

LA
Deeper water.

LA
Four blocks down the hill from Aqualand.  The telephoto lens shows about five blocks of water.

LA
And this is exactly what was under that spanse of water above.

More of a Weather Report:   Then the Army Corps of Engineers raised the river level enough to cover the road and the bridge over it.  It's almost a half mile wide two pics above.  The former ponds are under yards of water.  LA

LA
Mid-August and the ponds are quite dry.

LA
The road opened again and the bicycle trail to the left works again.

Other Tadpole Info -- Tadpoles

Toad Tadpoles II
 

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