It takes around 14 weeks on average for a tadpole to grow into a frog, but can take between 12 and 16 weeks depending on the species and the environment.
Observing the process of tadpoles turning into frogs is a unique and fascinating event.
During the process of transformation from tadpoles to frogs, tadpoles will start to lose their gills and develop legs. The length of the process depends on the species and the environment.
Sometimes, the frog metamorphosis is also impacted by several external factors, such as temperatures, food restriction, contaminants present in the environment, and much more.
How Long Does it Take for Tadpoles to Grow Legs?
On average, it will take anywhere between 14 to 16 weeks for tadpoles to start developing their front and hind legs.
At first, the tadpole will start to lose its gills as it is ready to turn into a frog. This process is rather slow and it will take several weeks for this to happen.
After hatching from the egg, the tadpole will be completely reliant on its gills for survival. The closer the tadpole is to turning into a frog, the more it will depend on its lungs.
The next point of development for tadpoles is to start getting legs. When tadpoles spawn, they’re not much more than a mouth, tail, and some jelly, but when they start to develop, they start growing their legs.
First, the hind legs will start growing. These need to be extra strong so they start to develop before the front legs start to grow.
This process might start at 12 weeks already for some frogs, but the majority of frogs will start growing their legs at about 14 to 16 weeks of age.
The process of growing legs can take anywhere from a few days to up to two weeks before the legs are fully grown.
At the same time, a number of smaller changes start happening for the tadpole, and these changes all signify that the tadpole is turning into a fully grown frog.
Related Article: What Do Baby Frogs Eat?
What Happens When Tadpoles Turn into Frogs?
Usually, these changes will happen when tadpoles start turning into frogs:
- They will start to grow their hind legs first and then their front legs
- They start to lose gills
- Tadpoles start growing lungs which grow larger and larger as they age
- They start to develop teeth
- Their diet becomes carnivorous
- Finally, the tadpole will absorb and lose its tail and turn it into protein to allow the body to grow
All these processes happen over a few weeks and might start happening as early as 4 weeks into the life of a tadpole.
At first, these changes will be small and subtle, but the closer the tadpole is to turning into a frog, the more severe and apparent these changes will be.
A very important development for the tadpole is when they start to grow their teeth. This allows them to start eating carnivorous foods and grow even further.
Once the tadpole to frog transformation is complete, the diet of the frog will almost entirely be carnivorous.
Most of these changes will occur at weeks 10 to 12 and they will mostly be complete by week 14 at the latest.
The Timeline of Frog Metamorphosis
There are four stages of frog metamorphosis. Let’s take a look at these stages to help you better understand how a tadpole turns into a frog.
Stage 1: Egg
The first stage is when tadpoles are still eggs. A female will hatch anywhere between 2000 and 4000 eggs at once.
These eggs will form clusters in water and might attach to nearby vegetation to stay safe from predators. The eggs will take between 1-3 weeks to hatch.
Stage 2: Tadpoles
The second stage of their transformation is when they turn into tadpoles. At this time, the tadpoles will have gills and no legs, so they will spend all their time in the water.
Tadpoles are herbivorous and will feed on algae and other plant matter they can find in their environment.
Stage 3: Young Frog/Froglet
Now, this is where the magic starts to happen. The real transformation begins a bit earlier, but most tadpoles start to turn into froglets at about 14 weeks of age. The tadpole will start to lose gills, it will start to grow hind and front legs, as well as its teeth.
Early on in the transformation, tadpoles will still have tails and they might still resemble a tadpole in terms of appearance. However, the further the transformation goes, the more the tail will start to diminish in size until it is not there any longer.
Stage 4: Adult Frog
The final stage of the transformation is when the froglet becomes an adult frog. At this point, the froglet will lose its tail and it will grow significantly in size, too. The frog will completely leave the water and it will start to live on land much more.
And since the frog has grown its legs and lungs, it will be able to hop around and not swim as tadpoles did previously. The frog will still go into the water now and then as it needs its skin to stay moist.
The process of becoming an adult is a much longer one compared to the transformation from tadpole to froglet. The process of growing up can take up to 4 years in total, as some frogs might spend the majority of their lives growing.
It takes about 14 weeks for tadpoles to turn into frogs in total.
This process will depend on various factors, such as genetics and environmental factors, too. In the process, tadpoles will start to lose their gills and they will also grow their legs, enabling them to leave the water and jump onto land.
Another important fact is that tadpoles also start developing lungs, which allows them to live outside water. The process of growing up into adult frogs, however, can take several years.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.