Is there a herpetologist in the house?
July 1, 2010 6:36 AM   Subscribe

Neighborhood kids were netting for minnows and caught a metamorph (looks like a Bullfrog?) And now they want to see it change. Advice on metamorph care please?

Personally, I'm an advocate of catch and release, but I understand the kids' curiosity because, hey! Nature IS cool. And I caught a great number of fish, turtles, snakes, bugs, etc. in my childhood, too. It really sparked my interest in the sciences, so I consider it pretty valuable if kids are passionate about this.

I've done a bit of research on the 'net and there is lots out there about tadpoles or frogs, but the details on caring for metamorphs are a bit hazy. Some sites say to feed them (frozen lettuce? mosquito larvae? The suggestions have been all over the board.) Less info on depth of water and tank environment (if we keep this thing, we're borrowing a bigger tank from the local nature center and we'll be changing the water with fresh water from the pond where the kids found him/her). We've been keeping him in half-sun, half-shade so he can choose to warm up if needed, but I think bull-froglings also need leafy matter to hide under, yes?)

We're looked up the frog lifecyle on the Internet, the kids want to go to the library today to get books about frogs and other amphibians, etc. It's been a pretty fun 24 hours to see them so excited about science!

We WILL be letting this guy go, back into the pond from whence he came in a few weeks.
posted by jeanmari to Pets & Animals (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not familiar with the metamorph concept (are you sure the tail won't be absorbed?), but my son did raise a couple of leopard frogs from tadpole to frog state. I can tell you for that he mainly fed them bloodworms. He also had another type of frog (briefly) which ate mainly crickets (live). I believe we had some vitamin powder to occassionally sprinkle on the crickets.
posted by Eicats at 7:20 AM on July 1, 2010

Best answer: I don't know too much about their care, although I have a pond in my front yard where the little guys grow up every year. (This year it seems to be exclusively salamander efts, which is pretty neat.)

Having raised a lot of animals of all different kinds, I think you've pretty well got it with regards to your routine. I would err on the side of providing too many options, and you can't keep the tank too clean, or give the little guy too much space. Also, I'd put in a rock or a chunk of wood such that he can crawl out of the water if he wants.

And if you're keeping it outside, be sure to predator-proof it. Raccoons, snakes, dogs, cats, and large birds will all be licking their chops to eat Mr. Frog. A section of hardware cloth (heavy wire mesh) held on with bungee cords would work well.
posted by ErikaB at 10:50 AM on July 1, 2010

Best answer: I've raised a bunch of these in nature center tanks without overthinking it. SOP was to take a fairly roomy fish tank and build a "riverbank" on one side with aquarium sand or local earth. You can plant this with some aquatic plants you gather from nearby where you found the frog to provide some erosion control. Place a couple of large flat rocks in the tank too - one along the "bank" and one like an island. Dry leaf matter on top of the island is a good idea.

Use water from the animal's habitat. Don't use tap water (chlorine is bad for the frogs). Pour it in with a pitcher against the side of the glass where the "riverbank" isn't. Let it settle for a few hours until clearish. Add in the frog. Most likely it will swim up under a rock to hang out.

You can feed the frog fish food or frog food (yes, they make it) from the pet shop, or lettuce scraps. We also usually had crickets available (see a bait store, or go hunting in the evening) and plenty of mosquitos for omnivorous frogs.

If you have found instructions for raising tadpoles, those will work. "Metamorph" is a fancy name for an old tadpole that's almost a frog, and instructions that take you through the adult stage will cover the care of this critter. This is really not too difficult an undertaking.

Ethical questions are important, but actually I think it's great that you are working with these kids to explore a natural process and do it with some thought and care. There's not enough of that in their lives anymore.
posted by Miko at 12:42 PM on July 1, 2010

And p.s., even though they might or might not eat, they're not going to starve, because the major source of the body's fuel at this stage is the absorption of the tail anyhow.
posted by Miko at 12:43 PM on July 1, 2010

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