What is the Life Cycle of a Frog?
Frogs can live in water and on land, making them amphibians. Before they become adult frogs, they go through a series of life stages, all of which happen underwater. The life cycle of a frog can appear complex for kids. However, we can break it down into four stages.
What are the four stages of the frog cycle?
Stage 1: Egg
Eggs are laid in a group in the water by the frog. These then hatch into tadpoles. A female frog can lay up to 4,000 eggs at any one time! These eggs float on the water in ponds, lakes, and rivers and look like a large mass of jelly. These eggs are known as frogspawn and will hatch into tadpoles.
Stage 2: Tadpole
When the eggs hatch, tadpoles emerge. These are the larvae of the frog. They don’t move very much for the first two weeks after emerging and will spend time absorbing the remaining yolk from their egg for nutrients.
The tadpole then spends time eating and growing. When tadpoles are young, they look much more like fish than frogs. They also have gills to allow them to breathe underwater. Tadpoles feed on algae and other plant life in the water to give them energy.
As the tadpole grows, hind limbs emerge like tiny frogs with tails. They also develop lungs to breathe out of the water while on land.
Stage 3: Young Frog
The juvenile frog grows front legs, and its tail gradually becomes shorter until it is no longer there. It is because there are nutrients within its tail that it absorbs as food. This young froglet is then ready to jump out of the water to experience life on land.
Stage 4: Adult Frog
As the frog develops into an adult, it will eat insects rather than vegetation. It can take up to four years before the frog becomes fully mature. Once it is, the frog can then lay eggs or fertilize them, and the life cycle of a frog can start all over again!
Our beautifully illustrated Frog Life Cycle Posters can adorn your classroom to remind your children of the importance of each stage.
What is frogspawn?
The eggs that frogs lay are called frog spawn. Frogspawn looks like a large clump of jelly. However, it is, in fact, a collection of thousands of frog eggs stuck together. Each egg has a tiny tadpole embryo surrounded by protective jelly that keeps the tadpole safe.
When the frogspawn is laid by the female frog, it will sit partially submerged in the pond water. The tadpoles inside each egg will slowly eat the jelly surrounding them and build their strength. Eventually, once all the jellies are eaten, the tadpoles will hatch.
A frog’s early life is complicated; only 10 of the 4,000 eggs will become adult frogs. It is because most of the frogspawn and tadpoles are often eaten by predators such as birds, fish, and newts.
How can I help take care of tadpoles?
Tadpoles have a high mortality rate, so many don’t grow into fully-fledged frogs. Threats to tadpoles include predators, such as birds, fish, mammals, and turtles, and a lack of oxygen in their water supply. Some scientists claim that tadpoles have a 4% chance of survival, meaning just four tadpoles in every 100 become adult frogs. Scary stuff, right?
Luckily, there are things we can do, as nature lovers, to give the humble tadpole a greater chance of survival. These activities are a great way to introduce young children to the wonders of nature. Why not try them out with your family this weekend?
Add rocks and oxygenating plants to your pond. Rocks provide tadpoles with much-needed shelter from predators, and oxygenating plants improve the quality of their water source. Arrowhead, eelgrass, fanwort, and water sprite are the best oxygenating plants.
Plant a tree near your water source. Ever seen a pond full of green water? That’s algae, which thrives in warm and sunny conditions. Unfortunately, the algae suck up all the oxygen, leaving none for other inhabitants, like tadpoles and frogs. To reduce the algae levels in your pond, plant a tree or shrub next to it to keep the water shaded and cool in the warmer months.
Feed them. Tadpoles feed on dead insects, vegetation, and algae in the wild. You can supplement their natural diet with some of these items: boiled spinach, fish food, boiled eggs, flies, and crickets.
Build an exit ramp. When the tadpoles’ limbs develop, they’ll need a way to get out of the water – a frog freeway, if you will. You can use plants, rocks, or bits of wood to create yours.
Something to bear in mind. Many animals rely on tadpoles to sustain them during the spring. It may seem cruel, but they’re a vital food source for birds, snakes, hedgehogs, newts, and other tadpoles! One main reason frogs lay so many eggs is that they know only a handful will survive. So, even though it’s not great news for the tadpoles, they play a significant role in their ecosystem, and we should be careful not to disrupt this natural balance too much.
To explore the wonderful world of frogs, why not go to a local pond and see whether you can see any frogspawn or tadpoles? It can be the perfect introduction to the life cycle of a frog, and you will get to see these amazing amphibians in their natural habitat!
Getting outdoors can be a great break from the classroom and make learning more meaningful. Seeing a frog in the wild, catching insects, and laying eggs is much more powerful than reading about them in books. Create a simple nature checklist to accompany your trip outside. Can your children spot frogspawn, a froglet, a lily pad, algae, insects, and other flora and fauna while on your mini field trip? Once you have hooked your budding naturalists, they will be eager to learn more about frogs!