|The Question: We have a very old hot tub that hasn’t been used for years and the cover has collected a good amount of water from rain and now looks almost like a tiny pond! We recently we have discovered that it is filled with tadpoles! My dad thinks it is a from a tree frog because he has heard them. Should we move them to a nearby water source? Or just leave them alone?
Submitted by: Patrice, Connecticut, USA
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The Short Answer: Patrice, gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) is probably a good guess because they are known to lay eggs in everything from ponds to puddles. Trent University in Ontario has a nice chart that compares some of the common North American tadpoles. You’ll see that gray tree frog tadpoles have red or orange on the tail. Tadpoles of some other species in the genus Hyla also have red on the tail, but the gray tree frog is the only frog in that genus found in Connecticut. So if you see red or orange on the tail, it’s a good bet your tadpoles are gray tree frog babies.
Unless you think the water will dry up, I would just leave them. They’ll feed on algae and other stuff growing in the water and they’ll prey on small creatures like mosquito larvae. Moving them is risky. One benefit of breeding in puddles and other temporary bodies of water is a lack of fish, turtles and most predatory aquatic insect larvae that eat tadpoles. You might move them somewhere where there are predators that will eat them. Or you might move them to a place where they won’t find the right kind of food. The best bet might be to trust that the gray tree frog(s) chose your hot tub pond for a reason, and hope for the best.
If you really want to help your tadpoles, the best thing would be to make sure the puddle doesn’t dry up. That would be sure death for them. So add water if the puddle gets low, but make sure you’re not adding chlorinated water straight from your tap. That might kill them. You could fill a couple of buckets with water in advance, and let them sit for several days. Any chlorine will evaporate and algae will begin to grow. If you later add the contents of the bucket to the tadpole puddle, it will give them water and food at the same time.
You could also try supplementing their food supply with scrunched up tropical fish food if you happen to have some. But don’t overdo it. If you overfeed, the uneaten food will release ammonia and nitrites, which might kill the tadpoles.
It takes about six to eight weeks for gray tree frog tadpoles to metamorphose into adults. Let us know how it goes. Good luck!
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I haven’t had tadpoles since childhood. Thank you so much for updating info just in case I find my own Tadpole Patch this summer.
Awesome, informative and interesting answer. You just may have saved a bunch of tadpoles lives.
i recently found a puddle drying up in the street and i just saved hundreds of tadpoles. i now have them in a very large kitty litter box on my balcony. i made sure to get plenty of the algae covered mud. i couldnt save them all and i tried adding water to the puddle but its dry now . i think i have todes. i was going to release them into a near by creek. but now im worried they will just get eaten. what would you do?
Hi, Ambor. I would look at it that you’ve already done these tadpoles an enormous service. They would all have died in the puddle. So if you release them into a nearby creek and very few survive, it’s still better than it was. Alternatively, if you try to keep them alive in the cat litter box, if any of them make it, that’s also better. If you keep them, you could just leave the water so that it gets some sunlight to grow algae, and put a rock or two in the water so that if they metamorphose, they can crawl out of the water. You could also add a little fish food from the pet store, if you wanted to try and feed them. If you do too much, it will just pollute the water with nitrates, so just do a little bit a couple times a day. If it were me, I might release most of them and keep a handful to see what happens in the kitty litter box. Tom
My dad’s swimming pool cover had a lot of standing water on it. Now there are hundreds if not thousands of tadpoles. The cover may have some tears allowing the pool water to mix, but so far the tadpoles are thriving. Unfortunately, it is pool season in Memphis, TN. Is it worth trying to relocate some tadpoles to a nearby park? Otherwise, I think they all might get sucked up by the pool company when they come to open the pool.
Sure, you could move them. What have you got to lose? Tom