Cian’s obsession with the frog life cycle is still going strong. Today he wanted to play ‘food chains’ with Finny.

What do tadpoles eat?

When tadpoles hatch, they have gills so can’t survive out of the water. They grow at a fast rate, so need to feed multiple times a day to get the nutrition they need. They eat whatever is available to them, so their first meal is usually whatever remains of their egg as the yolk is high in nutrients.

In general they are herbivorous and eat algae and the leaves or roots of any aquatic plants. Some of their favourite plants are duckweed and mosses.

Tadpoles only eat meat when aquatic vegetation is limited. If they need to hunt, they will do so by quickly snatching anything small enough to fit in their mouths as it swims near them. They will usually only hunt small prey like mosquito larvae.

Because they sometimes eat meat, they can technically be classified as omnivorous, but most begin as herbivores.

Poisonous Dart Frogs

They had seen the tadpoles in Fergus’ Pool had plenty of aquatic plants, but were interested to find what happens to tadpoles raised in different ecosystems.

Cian particularly wanted to know:

1. If poison dart frogs don’t have big ponds, where do they put their tadpoles?

After researching, this was their answer to Cici’s first question.

Male poison dart frogs nurture their young tadpoles by placing each one in its own tiny pool of water. He does this by carrying each tadpole on his back.

And if the tiny pool begins to dry up, he moves the tadpole to a better location. He just has to remember where he put each tadpole so he can check on them while they grow.

2. What do tadpoles eat if they are on a leaf and there is no algae?

I didn’t know this, so they were delighted to find out the answer.

They consolidated their learning by watching this clip from the BBC’s Seven Worlds One Planet, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. It documents how this colourful creature, “no bigger than a human thumbnail,” protects his growing offspring in the Amazon rainforest.

This six-week undertaking is a team effort, especially when the tadpoles don’t have access to food like algae, microorganisms, and very small dead insects:

“A female could do something a male cannot. But first, Dad must lead his partner to their hungry tadpole, and Mother deals with the problem. She lays a single unfertilized egg, and her tadpole gets a much-needed meal.”

Tadpole food chain

Young tadpoles will usually not go far away from cover as they are very vulnerable to predators during their first few months. They will usually then find cover under some type of aquatic plant, such as duckweed or lily pads, which will also serve as a food source for them.

This was the food chain they came up with for of a ‘Yorkshire tadpole’, rather than one in the Amazon rainforest.

sun -> algae -> tadpole -> fish -> kingfisher

DfES Early Learning Goals (2017)

ELG 14 – The world:

Children know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes.