What Is a Tadpole? Where Do Tadpoles Come From? How Do They Breathe?
Tadpole is the aquatic, larval stage of an amphibian, such as a frog or a newt. They develop from jelly-covered eggs, or spawn, laid in the water by the adult female. The jelly has an awful taste, which protects the eggs from predators until they are ready to hatch.
Tadpoles swim by means of a tail, and feed on animal and plant matter. They have a big head and a long tail. As they grow, their tails get smaller and they begin to grow legs. Soon the gills disappear, too, and the animal then looks like a miniature version of the adult.
It then climbs from the water to begin life on land. Tadpoles are sometimes known by other names, such as pollywogs, porwigles, or pinkwinks. The word “tadpole” comes from the Middle English word taddepol, which is made up of the words tadde (“toad”) and pol (“head”).
Scientists estimate the total transformation from tadpole to frog takes approximately 12-16 weeks most of the time. However, in cold places or at high altitudes, the tadpole to frog metamorphosis can take an entire winter.
Tadpoles are born with gills, just like a fish, so that they can breathe under water by moving their throat through regular rhythmic movements, known as pulsing. They can also breathe through lungs. When they metamorphose into frogs, they eventually lose their gills and start breathing through the lungs or through the skin.
Tadpoles have a tough life. It’s a good thing they are fast swimmers to escape the many other creatures that hunt them in the pond. They are a favorite food to fish and water beetles.