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How to Set Up a Backyard Tadpole Habitat for Summer…

We’ve had a backyard tadpole habitat for a few summers now, and the kids really love it. I had quite a few questions about my tadpole experiment and how to set up a backyard tadpole habitat, and wanted to answer them here for you. It’s been so great for the kids, and I love adding toads to my yard for pest control.
Growing a tadpole habitat for summer learning

1. Where we live we can buy tadpoles for ponds at our local garden and pond supply center. They were $1.99 each, My mom has a huge pond and she buys them every year when she adds in a Koi fish or two. When I found out that all they would need is  a bowl of water, a shady area, a few rocks and  a plant, I thought it would be super cute for the kids to watch and learn about! Our tadpoles are Leopard and Green frogs which are native to IL.
Kids in a backayrd tadpole habitat for summer learning

2.  Their names are Penelope, Jack Ryan and Snow White. This is such a fun summer learning opportunity for the kids! They run out every day to see what their little “pets” are doing! For more backyard fun, see how we made over their old playset!

Bowl for a backyard tadpole habitat to grow toads and frogs and summer learning


3. I only bought three because the bowl is only 18 inches by 8 inches. And I do change out the water every few days or at least add more so it doesn’t get stagnant or gacky. They seem tolerant to straight hose water, though my mom mentioned I might want to de-oxygenate it first by letting it sit.
Growing a tadpole habitat for summer learning
4.We put them in an area where they have  lots of plants and shade cover. Plus in a small bowl like that, the water can heat up quickly, At the spot they are in it is almost all day shade except for about 2 hours before sunset. On really hot days I add fresh water or ice cubes. It’s almost in an area with lots of ground vegetation so when they become frogs,  they have  a place to hide from predators. Hopefully they won’t venture out into the main yard and get run over by the lawnmower. That’s going to be a hard one to explain.
Use a bowl to create a backyard tadpole habitat
5. The plant we have in there is  called Creeping Jenny (ironic, huh?). My mom started to give me the Latin name first ( darn horticulturalists!). But all I heard was  her say Lypi.. then  blah blah blah as my eyes glazed over ( I am an artist…). She did say you could also use Water Parsley, Water Clover or even regular , old Impatiens. Take them out of the pot and float them. Leave the roots exposed however because the tadpoles in your habitat will eat the roots.

6. I associate Jake Ryan with the 80’s as well, but my girls said there is a character on Hannah Montana with the same name, so I am assuming it is an homage to our youth. All of the names were put in a bowl.

7. We added mosquito fish/rosies once the tadpoles started leaving to keep up with mosquitos and eat the larvae. Here’s where you really need rocks, so the little fish can hide from the larger tadpoles. Another option is a small solar re-circulating pump.

Growing a tadpole habitat for summer learning
It’s such a fun and cute learning experience for the kids,. Even though it’s a little bit of extra work for me, they love it, so I know it’s worth the time.

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  1. this is fabulous- i’m going to do this and stick it in a lush corner of our plot in the UCSD community gardens

  2. I just found hundreds of tadpoles in some standing water in my very own backyard. Unfortunately, the vessel that they are in (a 12′ pool that bit the dust) has to go. That’s why I found them. My grandaughter and I are capturing as many as we can and building a small habitat. Thanks for the great ideas. 🙂

  3. Cool! I have done something like this before,though I’ve never bought them before didn’t know you could. Guess that’s what ya get from the south.

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