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Every week there are new marvels to look for in the outdoors, and Discover Nature highlights these attractions. The Missouri Department of Conservation’s Josh Hartwig brings us the stories of river otters, luna moths, red buds, and other actors as they take center stage in nature’s theater.You can hear Discover Nature, Mondays at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Discover Nature: Tadpoles Become Toadlets

Missouri Department of Conservation.

June 13 - June 19

Discover nature this week as American toad tadpoles turn into toadlets and leave the water.

This is the perfect time to start watching local fishless ponds and witness the transformation through the week.  All Missouri toads and frogs must return to a body of water to reproduce and most select fishless bodies of water for breeding. Flooded fields, ditches, woodland and prairie ponds, and temporary pools are their favorite breeding places.

Most eggs hatch within 10 to 14 days of being laid. The tiny, newly hatched tadpoles rest for a few days by clinging to aquatic plants.

Most Missouri tadpoles eat aquatic plants as they develop in the wetland. Tadpoles have gills, somewhat like fish, which are covered and protected by a flap of skin. As development progresses, their hind legs form and enlarge. The tail begins to shrink and as the front legs appear, the tail shrinks. Soon the gills are not used, and the late-stage tadpole begins to breathe air at the surface, using brand-new lungs. The final stage of development from a tadpole to a young frog, known as a froglet, is the combination of the disappearance of the tail and the change from a life underwater to a life on land or along the edge of a pond or swamp. Soon after transforming from tadpoles to froglets or toadlets, they’ll begin eating insects, small spiders and worms. 

If you have a small pond or shallow water depression on your property, these young amphibians will grow to be great bug eaters before you know it. A successful frog pond is no more than three to four feet deep and has as much shoreline as possible to provide a hunting area for them.

To keep track of current natural events like when you can watch tadpoles grow into toadlets, you can get your own Natural Events Calendar from the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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