What Do Tadpoles Eat?

What do tadpoles eat?

What Do Tadpoles Eat? A tadpole refers to the larval stage of the members of class Amphibia. Tadpoles of the members of this class are distinct, especially when looking at their morphology and related metamorphosis.

Tadpoles are mostly herbivorous, given that they feed on planktonic plant material in the water. Others are omnivorous. Aside from feeding on plant material, they also feed on small sediments of detritus found at the bottom of a water column.

Other species are carnivores more so cannibalistic, consuming smaller tadpole species.

What Do Tadpoles Eat?

Tadpole Type Diet
Frog Tadpoles Algae, stream substrates, meat, & insect larvae.
Toad Tadpoles Plant, algae, meat diet, and also cannibalistic.
Salamander and Newt Tadpoles Microorganisms, worms, and mosquito larvae.

Suggested Reading: What do frogs eat?

Tadpoles Diet by Types

Amphibian tadpoles spot some similarities, which include the fact that they all have gills. Given the fact that different animals are classified as amphibians, it is worth to note that different types of tadpoles exist. This section will shed light into the different kinds of tadpoles that exist.

Suggested Reading: Amphibians Vs. Reptiles

What Do Frog Tadpoles Eat?

what do frog tadpoles eat?Frog tadpoles mostly feed on algae and stream substrates . Others, with the example of the American Bullfrog tadpoles, which enjoy meat, consume insect larvae.

  • After hatching, frog tadpoles spot gills that are poorly developed, a mouth and a tail. At this point, this organism is very fragile.
  • As a result, they will tend to draw support from floating weeds, and grasses, and this is facilitated by the sticky organs that lie between their mouths and belly.
  • The tadpole begins to obtain mobility a week to ten days after hatching.
  • Their habitats are wholly aquatic regions with the exastreams, streams, ponds, and lakes.

What Do Toad Tadpoles Eat?

What do toad tadpoles eat?Toad tadpoles mostly feed on plant and algae. Other species, with the example of ‘cane toads tadpoles , add a meat diet to the plant matter they eat, especially when they begin to grow their legs. They are also cannibalistic.

  • Toad tadpoles are jet black, and they tend to form shoals.
  • They grow their hind legs first, and because of this, their bodies will tend to thicken developing rounded bellies.
  • These toad tadpoles are aquatic like their frog tadpole counterparts.

What Do Salamander and Newt Tadpoles Eat?

What do salamander newt tadpoles eat?Salamander and Newt tadpoles tend to consume microorganisms in the water column. As they become older, they consume smaller worms and mosquito larvae.

  • These pollywogs have gills behind their heads.
  • Their front legs tend to develop faster, compared to frogs and toad tadpoles.
  • These tadpoles/larvae can either live in aquatic or terrestrial habitats.

How Do Tadpoles Hunt?

How do tadpoles hunt?

For meat-eating tadpoles, hunting is a dynamic process.

  • The tadpoles use their senses to track their prey.
  • The visual sense is more at use during this time.
  • They then chase their prey and proceed to capture it via their mouths using a mechanism dubbed suction feeding.
  • This feeding mechanism is notable among adult frogs.

When Do Tadpoles Eat?

Tadpoles eat at any time of the day.

  • Research has however shown that bright light (which is present during the day) increases a tadpole’s range of vision which is instrumental in antipredation reaction, the higher light intensity has also been noted to promote activity.
  • This behavior confirms that tadpoles will tend to eat more during these conditions.
  • Aside from the influence of light intensity on when tadpoles feed, these small creatures eat when faced with desperation.
  • When resources are scarce, tadpoles are forced to turn to cannibalism to survive. In this sense, some tadpoles eat other tadpoles when they need to survive.

How often do Tadpoles Eat?

Tadpoles feed very frequently, and this is because they are growing.

  • Studies have shown that tadpoles lack inhibitory feeding regulators before they metamorphose to adults and so they will tend to eat continuously.

What Eats Tadpoles?

What eats tadpoles? Herons

Many creatures feed on tadpoles.

  • These predators include animals like raccoons, water snakes, small alligators and crocodiles, predator birds with the example of Herons, and fish.
  • Little turtles, predatory insects, and their larvae feed on tadpoles as well.
  • Big tadpoles also feed on their smaller counterparts.

Where do Tadpoles fit in the Animal Food Chain?

Tadpoles are essential to the animal food chain.

  • They provide food to the ecosystem, where animals like shrimp, water snakes, predatory birds, and smaller reptiles consume them.
  • They also prevent overpopulation by feeding on other smaller animals, insects and smaller tadpoles, especially when considering that some of them are notable carnivores, omnivores, and cannibals.

Cite This Page

BioExplorer.net. (2023, September 21). What Do Tadpoles Eat?. Bio Explorer. https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-tadpoles-eat.html/.
BioExplorer.net. "What Do Tadpoles Eat?" Bio Explorer, 21 September 2023, https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-tadpoles-eat.html/.
BioExplorer.net. "What Do Tadpoles Eat?" Bio Explorer, September 21 2023. https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-tadpoles-eat.html/.

Key References

  • “Types of Tadpoles | Animals – mom.me”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “Larval Amphibian Ecology” – amphibianark.org. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “Tadpoles – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “Zoologger: What turns a tadpole into a killer? | New Scientist”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “Frog Friday: Tadpoles”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “Tadpoles | AMNH”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “Life Cycle of a Frog”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “Tadpoles—the Larvae of Frogs and Toads | Owlcation”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “(PDF) Why be a cannibal? The benefits to cane toad, Rhinella marina [=Bufo marinus], tadpoles of consuming conspecific eggs | Ross Alford – Academia.edu”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “Spawn & tadpoles: identification”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “What do Salamanders Eat? – Untamed Science”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “Salamander – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “Suction feeding by a tiny predatory tadpole | Nature”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “Effects of light intensity on activity in four sympatric anuran tadpoles”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “Tadpoles Turn to Cannibalism Only When Desperate | Live Science”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “Tadpoles Keep Eating Because They Don’t Feel Full | The Scientist Magazine®”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.
  • “3 Reasons Why Frogs Are So Important to the Ecosystem – science made simple”. Accessed August 09, 2019. Link.


  1. […] are herbivores that eat planktonic material in the water. They enjoy feasting on sediment and scraping material from underwater […]


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