Herpetoculture is the activity of keeping of live reptiles and amphibians in captivity. “Herps” is the informal term used to address reptiles and amphibians. Herpetoculture today is a growing hobby; however there is a huge difference between herpetology and hepetoculture. Professional herpetology’s focus is on scientific research and conservation biology whereas herpetoculture is more of a hobby and a commercial breeding operation. Though many consider it to be different from pet keeping, several herpetoculturists treat their animals as pets and even name them.
There is a major issue with herpetoculture, as exotic species might escape or some people may release them into the wild. This might result in the establishment of populations outside of their natural range. These reptiles/amphibians may eventually become an invasive species.
The most common among all these animals are tadpoles and this article is about raising tadpoles as pets.
Things to Know While Raising Tadpoles:
- Before raising tadpoles you need to check the laws of your country/state. Ensure that collecting that species of tadpoles from the wild is legal.
- Don’t release non-native species in to the wild (as it may become an invasive species)
- If you are breeding, then make sure to create an environment that resembles rainy season (create a rain chamber) for the frogs.
- You need to have an aquarium for raising the tadpoles. Make sure to use dechlorinated water as chlorinated water might kill the tadpoles.
- Tadpoles require clean water hence make sure to change the water everyday (at least 50% change).
- One should have a thermostat and temperature control system for the aquarium.
- You might need to use soft water if you are raising certain species of tadpoles like Poison Dart Frogs or other species from Amazon Rain-forests.
For successful breeding of frogs you need to do a proper research and build a plan for raising the tadpoles.
Feeding and Raising:
The tadpoles will start to metamorphose and during this phase it is important to provide them with floating islands (usually natural or plastic plants) where they can live outside water as they start to lose their gills and develop their respiratory system. It is better not to use gravel or stones in the aquarium for making the cleaning process easier. The water should be changed regularly instead of using filtration system or aerator, as the tadpoles will not be able to withstand the water currents created by those systems. However you can have a mild aeration system two weeks after spawning.
Feeding of tadpoles is the most important phase of raising tadpoles. The embryos will not need any food for the first few days after hatching as they will absorb the nutrition from their yolk sac. After the first few days you should start feeding and it depends on the species, as there are herbivores as well as carnivores among tadpoles. For herbivore the best food is boiled lettuce or algae tablets and for carnivore you can provide crushed fish flakes. Species like African clawed frog are filter feeders and they need powdered food, and the ideal food for them is powdered algae (you can powder the algae tablets). You should be very careful while feeding carnivorous tadpoles; species like the horned frogs, are difficult to feed as they need live food and hence will be cannibalistic. You can feed them with crushed fish flakes and also isolate them.
Overall you should do a through research on what tadpoles will eat before you start feeding a particular species.