What is a Tadpole?
What is a tadpole? A tadpole is the larval stage of the amphibian life cycle. There are many different amphibians that have tadpoles in their life cycle; however, the most common is a frog. This lesson focuses on tadpoles within the average life cycle of frogs. Depending on the species of frog, each phase in the life cycle may be slightly different than what is considered average.
What do tadpoles look like? Tadpole larva once hatched develop a tail to help them swim in the water. Tadpoles tend to look like an oval-shaped head with an attached tail. The colors of tadpoles change drastically depending on the species and can be anywhere from dark black to bright red! When tadpoles first hatch, they only have small eyes, nostrils, body, tail, and a vent which leads to internal gills.
Tadpoles are different from many other animals in that the young do not look like miniature versions of the adults. Tadpoles must undergo a special process known as metamorphosis, a process that changes an organism abruptly from a larval form into the adult form.
Tadpole Life Cycle
There are seven main stages in tadpole development. Tadpoles are the larval stage in the tadpole life cycle; however, this particular life stage can be broken down into hatching, free swimming, teeth, and legs to help better highlight the stages and importance of how tadpoles grow. The four broad stages are sometimes used to sum up a frog's life cycle. These four broad stages are egg, tadpole, froglet, and frog.
|Eggs||The first stage in the tadpole lifecycle, when a frog is created and develops before it hatches.|
|Hatching||The second stage in the tadpole lifecycle is when the tadpole emerges from the egg and enters the tadpole larval stage.|
|Free Swimming||Once the tadpole enters the larval stage, it begins to swim and consumes organic matter.|
|Teeth||After consuming soft organic matter, teeth help to broaden the tadpole's diet to include a wider array of foods.|
|Legs||Legs signal the beginning of the metamorphosis process when the tadpole leaves the larval stage and becomes an adult.|
|Froglet||The final stage in the metamorphosis process before the tadpole becomes a mature adult and slowly loses the tail.|
|Frog||Usually shown by the absence of a tail and metamorphosis is complete. The adult frog is sexually mature, meaning it can produce offspring.|
Life Stages Timeline for Tadpoles
|6-21 days to hatch →||0-21 days after hatching →||1-4 weeks after hatching →||around 4 weeks after hatching →||5-9 weeks after hatching →||12 weeks after hatching →||roughly 13-16 weeks after hatching|
Female frogs will lay eggs in large clusters which are fertilized by males as they are laid. Typically, hundreds of eggs are laid and fertilized simultaneously to increase the change of some tadpoles making it to adulthood. There are two layers of a protective gelatinous membrane, one layer covers the entire cluster of eggs while the second layer covers each individual embryo for protection. The fertilized cells will begin to divide immediately to create a zygote which will eventually become an embryo. The jelly-like membrane helps to feed and protect the embryo as it grows.
The hatching period happens generally between 2-21 days after fertilization. Unlike other organisms that hatch from eggs, aquatic species that hatch typically do not shed their gelatinous egg coating. Instead, they emerge through an opening in the membrane and absorb the nutrients from the egg yolk by keeping it attached to their bodies. During this time, they typically stay somewhat stationary while they learn to swim through the water. In most cases, a tadpole will affix itself to weeds immediately after hatching from an egg. While they remain still, they are still growing and developing muscles to become stronger and more fit, which increases their survival rate tremendously. The yolk acts as a feeding source until their mouths, teeth, and jaws develop to better provide sustenance.
Once hatched, the tadpole will contain an individual head and tail which is connected by a torso. The head is made up of eyes and a mouth along with several specialized characteristics that will change after metamorphosis. External gills will migrate inside, pits located on the face will become nostrils, and the tail will eventually disappear. At first, the tadpoles do not look like adult frogs. Unlike most animal species, frogs, like some other amphibians, have a larval state and then must undergo metamorphosis to enter into the adult phase of their life cycle. It is not until they have gone through metamorphosis that the tadpoles really look like frogs.
The tadpole will develop teeth anywhere from 1-4 weeks after it hatches. Teeth develop at this time to help the tadpole consume different types of organic matter such as insects. At this time tadpoles begin to develop their social skills and learn traits they will need for adulthood.
Hind legs will develop first and this is often known as the frogs with legs stage in the tadpole life cycle. Most tadpoles start to develop legs 5-9 weeks after hatching. At the same time many of the different specialized characteristics that helped the tadpole survive, such as exterior gills, will change during metamorphosis. Lungs start to develop to help adult frogs breathe on land; however, some frogs still retain interior gills into adulthood to help them breathe underwater. Most amphibians also breathe through a process called cutaneous respiration, which means they respirate through their skin!
The froglet is a smaller version of the adult frog that has not reached sexual maturity. Often during this time, there is still a remnant of the tail left behind that will soon completely fade. A froglet is when tadpoles look like a frog with a tail. This phase also includes the growth of the front legs which allows the frog to move in and out of the water. The tail is an important tool for the froglet in this life stage. While it is not used so much for movement and swimming, the froglet will absorb the nutrients from the tail to help it develop. Much like it uses the egg yolk to help it develop as a hatchling, the froglet uses these extra nutrients to boost it into its final life phase.
A tadpole becomes a frog when it has reached sexual maturity, is able to mate with the opposite sex, and produces offspring. Adult frogs live in wet environments and often go between land and water. The skin of most frogs needs to stay moist so that they can breathe through their skin; if they were to dry out, they would not be able to breathe this way. While frogs also develop lungs, they need both ways to get the amount of oxygen required to live. Like most amphibians, frogs are cold-blooded and cannot regulate their own body temperature; this is called ectothermic homeostasis. This is different from warm-blooded animals like humans who are able to raise and lower their body temperature based on the climate. Because of this, aquatic species of frogs will go to the bottom of lakes and ponds in the winter where it is warmer. Terrestrial, or land-dwelling, species will dig themselves into the ground during winter until spring.
How Long Do Tadpoles Take to Grow?
How long do tadpoles take to grow? The length of time it takes for a tadpole to develop depends on the species, but on average it is about 14 weeks. Other species of frogs can take as long as three years to reach maturity.
A tadpole is the larval stage of the amphibian life cycle. Tadpoles tend to look like an oval-shaped head with an attached tail. The colors of tadpoles change drastically depending on the species and can be anywhere from dark black to bright red! When tadpoles first hatch, they only have small eyes, nostrils, body, tail, and a vent which leads to internal gills. Tadpoles must undergo a special process known as metamorphosis, a process that changes an organism abruptly from a larval form into an adult form. Tadpoles are different from many different animals in that the young do not look like miniature versions of the adults. Tadpoles are the larval stage in the life cycle of frogs. This unique life stage is seen in amphibians.
There are seven main stages in tadpole development. These stages include eggs, hatching, free swimming, teeth, legs, froglet, and frog. Eggs are laid in large clusters and once fertilized by males become zygotes. Eggs hatch generally between 2-21 days after they are fertilized. In most cases, a tadpole will affix itself to weeds immediately after hatching from an egg. After the tadpole has absorbed all the egg yolk that was attached to its body, it will begin swimming freely throughout the water and begin eating organic matter. Teeth develop around 1-4 weeks after the tadpole hatches and allow the tadpole to eat a wider variety of food. The hind legs develop first, this stage is also known as frogs with legs stage. Most tadpoles start to develop legs 5-9 weeks after hatching. During this stage, the tadpole undergoes a large amount of the metamorphosis needed to become a frog. A froglet is when tadpoles look like a frog with a tail. Froglets are the last stage before the tadpole becomes an adult frog and it will use the remaining part of its tail for nourishment. The length of time it takes for a tadpole to develop depends on the species, but on average it is about 14 weeks. A tadpole must undergo metamorphosis for it to become a frog. A tadpole becomes a frog when it has reached sexual maturity, is able to mate with the opposite sex, and produces offspring.
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How long does it take for a tadpole to turn into a frog?
For a tadpole to turn into a frog it must undergo the seven main stages in tadpole development. While this timeline varies between species, on average it takes around 14 weeks for a tadpole to turn into a frog.
How long does it take for a tadpole to become a frog?
The length of time it takes for a tadpole to develop into a frog depends on the species, but on average it is about 14 weeks.
What are the stages of a tadpoles life?
There are seven main stages in tadpole development. These include (1) eggs, (2) hatching, (3) free swimming, (4) teeth, (5) legs, (6) froglet, and (7) frog.
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