Difference Between Tadpoles and Frogs (With Table)

There are many types of animals living on earth. These all can be differentiated on the basis of where they live, what they eat, what they produce, and many more. The most common is where they lice while most of them live on land. Some tend to live underwater; they are called terrestrial and aquatic animals, respectively. But very few are those who can live both on land and underwater. Among the animals that are both terrestrial and aquatic are the frogs and few species of tadpoles.

Tadpoles vs Frogs

The difference between Tadpoles and Frogs is that tadpoles are the larval stage of an adult frog. It turns into a frog with time. Along with this, what differentiates them is where they live. All species of frogs are amphibians, i.e., they live in both land and water, but tadpoles are aquatic animals (except few terrestrial species).

The larval stage of amphibian is known as Tadpoles, which lives underwater only except few who can live on land as well. It is around 14 weeks or 100 days for tadpoles to turn into an adult frog. They are born with internal gills helping them to survive underwater.

After certain period tadpoles turn into frogs, which are amphibians, they live underwater as well as on dry land. They are of green color with silky and soft skin. They do not have a tail but do have external gills. They lay their eggs under the water. The life span of a frog is around 10 to 12 years maximum.

Comparison Table Between Tadpoles and Frogs

Parameters of ComparisonTadpolesFrogs
Physical Appearanceshort, oval bodies with no external gillsTwo bulging eyes, Strong feet with external gills.
Lives onOnly in water (except few spices)Both land and water
TeethThey have denticlesThey have tiny teeth
No. Chambered HeartThey have 2 chambered heartsThey have 3 chambered hearts
Types of SkullSoft skullFully developed skull

What are Tadpoles?

Tadpoles are also known as polliwogs, are infant frogs that are small in size, just like fish. They are aquatic animals and have tails and gills which help them to swim and breathe in water. They are born without limbs. There are various features they lack in the initial days, but by the time they develop fully, all the characteristics of a frog are developed in them.

Things that are required by the tadpoles to survive include:

  1. Water: the most important thing is water. They have gills. Therefore, they can breathe underwater easily, and most of them are not terrestrial; therefore, it becomes essential for survival.
  2. Food: they are babies. Therefore, they require more food. Tadpoles are herbivore that’s mean they need plants or something natural to eat.
  3. Warmth: warmth helps them to grow faster and become adults. This is also one of the major reasons that frogs lay eggs during summer or spring.

Physical Characteristics:

  1. Oval and small body: their body is not like frog they are much smaller in size
  2. Long tail: they have a tail from birth which eventually becomes very small
  3. No external gills: there are not external gills on tadpoles from birth.
  4. Two chambered hearts: they initially have only 2 chambered hearts.

What is Frog?

Frogs are animals that live both on land and in water. Water is only essential for them to reproduce as they lay eggs in water only. They are mostly known for their jumping abilities. They are carnivores implying that they eat anything they can have by using their sticky tongue like an arrow. They are very fast with this that most of the time, their prey does not have time to run or move.


  1. Strong eyesight: frogs have very sharp eyesight, which makes it very easy for them to see their food (insects).
  2. Long legs: frogs are mainly known for their jumping ability, and this is because they have very strong and long legs that further help them to swim.
  3. Three chambered heart: unlike tadpole, one more chambered heart develop in frog with time.
  4. Lungs: as tadpole grows, they develop lungs instead of gills, helping them to survive even on land.
  5. Strong hearing sense: frog can hear easily from a good distance.

The difference between a female and a male is that the male eardrums are the same in size of his eye, whereas it’s usually small in size in females. There are several species of frogs, which can be easily recognized by their size, shape, or color.

Main Differences Between Tadpoles and Frogs

  1. Both Tadpoles and Frogs have different physical and structural appearances, such as tadpole is born with a tail whereas frog does not have a tail.
  2. Tadpoles use their fins and tail for swimming underwater with keratin-like teeth, whereas frogs use their forelimbs and hind legs for swimming underwater with small teeth on both upper and lower jaws.
  3. Tadpoles only have gills which they use to breathe under the water, but frogs have lungs that help them breathe underwater as well as in dry land.
  4. Tadpoles are generally herbivores which means they do not eat other species/meat but only plant material, but frogs are carnivores. This means they mostly eat meat or flesh or others to survive.
  5. Most of the Tadpoles cannot live on land as they have gills and cannot breathe in the land except a few, but all frogs can live in the land too.
  6. There are only two chambered hear in a tadpole, but in frogs, there are 3 chambered hearts.
  7. Tadpoles have small and short skulls, but frogs have hard, fully grown skulls.


Most of the time, both of them are misunderstood and considered as the same, which is not true at all, and this is clear from all the above-mentioned differences. Where frog is an amphibian (animals live both in the land and water) but not all tadpoles live on land there are species of them which are amphibians, but the rest are all aquatic animals. And frog in turned into tadpole first and then into an adult. 

Therefore it will be wrong to say that tadpoles are nothing but the larval stage of a fully developed adult frog. Therefore tadpoles developed the entire feature making it different from frog just in time.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1748-1716.1958.tb01563.x
  2. https://meridian.allenpress.com/journal-of-parasitology/article-abstract/89/3/475/3403
  3. https://jeb.biologists.org/content/199/6/1245.short

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