Dart frogs, like many other amphibians, go through an amazing transformation from hatching to adulthood.
The day you receive the tadpole, soak ½ an indian almond leaf in the gallon of spring water and let it sit at room temperature. Ideally, this would sit for a day, but if your supplies arrive with the tadpole, soaking the almond leaf in the jug while you wait for the tadpole to get to room temperature should suffice. Your dart frog tadpole should arrive insulated and in a small breather bag. Remove the bag with tadpole from the box and let it sit for a half an hour or so to get to room temperature. Do not “float” it in water as this may suffocate your tadpole (breather bags must be allowed to “breathe” for oxygen exchange). After that, you’ll want to open this bag and empty the contents into an empty 16 oz cup. At this point, your almond leaf soaked spring water should be ready. Slowly introduce water from the jug into the cup (pour a little bit into the cup every 10 minutes). Fill this until the 16 oz cup is ¾ full. Then add a small piece of almond leaf for the tadpole to nibble on while in the cup. Finally, place one tadpole pellet into the cup, secure the provided lid on it, and put the cup itself somewhere safe where it won’t get too cold or knocked over. You will also want to make sure it is exposed to an ambient light cycle (basically, do not put your tadpole in complete darkness 24/7). If you have multiple tadpoles, set up multiple cups such that each gets its own cup. Your tadpole(s) are now acclimated and you are ready to begin raising your amphibian pets.
Ongoing care will center primarily around feeding your tadpole and freshening up its water, as well as monitoring its growth. You should feed your tadpole one pellet of tadpole food twice a week, preferably after performing a water change (which should also occur twice a week). To perform these water changes, carefully dump ¼ of the water and remove any old uneaten food (a turkey baster can help with this) without dumping your tadpole. You can leave the bit of almond leaf in the cup with the tadpole until it starts disintegrating, at which point you may want to replace it. To complete the water change, fill the cup up with fresh, treated/aged water until it is ¾ full and add one pellet. Once you have used up the initial jug of spring water, fill the same gallon jug with tap water, treat with the provided dechlorinator and add half an almond leaf. Let this sit 24 hours before using for your water changes. You will do these feedings and water changes on this schedule until you notice your frog has sprouted all of its legs. The back legs will come in first, then the tadpole will grow “elbows” by the gills. This is the precursor to front legs. Once the front legs are free and the tadpole starts absorbing its tail, you’ll want to discontinue feeding and proceed to the next step.
How to know when your tadpole is going to turn into a froglet
It can take anywhere from 3-6 weeks from the time you receive your tadpole until it is ready to emerge. This will depend largely on what temperature you keep your tadpole (higher temps = smaller froglet, but FASTER emergence). You will know your tadpole is close to emerging when it has fully formed both its front and back legs and its adult coloration has started coming in.
When you see these telltale signs, you’ll want to make sure your cup has a secure lid and tilt it at a 45 degree angle, so that the frog can leave the water when it is ready. In order for this to work, you will also need to dump out water until it is ¼ full. Remove uneaten food, stop feeding and check on it daily until you find it out of the water. Once it has left the water, your froglet is ready for the next leg of its journey.
Setting up your new froglet
Once the tadpole has fully formed into a froglet and left its aquatic life behind, you are ready to set it up in its temporary home. This will be a 128 oz bin, provided in the following kit, which should be purchased before your frog grows all of its legs. You’ll want to set this up with sphagnum moss that has been soaked in dechlorinated water for a few hours and then wrung out so it is damp but not oversaturated. Cover the entire bottom of the bin with ½ inch of this moss and lightly tamp it down. Next, add a few magnolia leaves for cover. You can now introduce your froglet to the bin. For the first week out of the water, your froglet will eat very little while it finishes absorbing its tail. You will want to provide springtails daily for the first week. Once the newly morphed froglet has fully absorbed its tail, it’ll be hungry! New frogs will chow down on springtails, but you should begin offering melanogaster fruit flies within a week of the frog leaving the water. We recommend starting to culture them as soon as your tadpole has 4 legs (typically about 2 weeks before your frog will start eating them). Between 1-2 weeks of age, you can start feeding your dart froglet these melanogaster fruit flies dusted with Repashy Calcium plus. This will ensure your froglet is getting adequate calcium to grow. Most froglets will be ready for their adult vivarium in 8-12 weeks.
Congrats! You have now successfully reared a dart frog!