Tadpoles vs Frogs: Difference and Comparison

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 live, while most of them live on land.

Some tend to live underwater, called terrestrial and aquatic animals, respectively. But very few are those who can live both on land and underwater. Among the terrestrial and aquatic animals are frogs and a few species of tadpoles.

Key Takeaways

  1. Tadpoles are the larvae stage of frogs that are water-dwelling creatures, while frogs are adult amphibians that live on land or in water.
  2. Tadpoles breathe through gills, while frogs breathe through their lungs and skin.
  3. Tadpoles have long, flat tails and no legs, while frogs have hind legs adapted for jumping and swimming and front legs for walking.

Tadpoles vs Frogs

A tadpole can be a child frog. Most of the tadpoles live under the water. A few of them live on land. It takes almost fourteen weeks for a tadpole to become a frog. Tadpoles have internal gills which help them in their survival. A frog is an adult frog. The lifetime of a frog can be 12 to 14 years. The color of the frog is green.

Tadpoles vs Frogs

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

After a 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

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 with tails and gills that help them swim and breathe in water.

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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 herbivores, which means 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 frogs 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 no 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 using their sticky tongues like arrows. They are very fast with this; most of the time, their prey does not have time to run or move.


  1. Strong eyesight: frogs have very sharp eyesight, making it easy 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 tadpoles, one more chambered heart develops in frogs 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.
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The difference between a female and a male is that the male eardrums are the same in size of the eye, whereas it’s small in size in females. Several species of frogs 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 a tadpole being born with a tail, whereas a 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 on dry land.
  4. Tadpoles are herbivores, meaning they do not eat other species/meat but only plant material; frogs are carnivores. This means they mostly eat meat or flesh or other 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.
Difference Between Tadpoles and Frogs
  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

Last Updated : 16 June, 2023

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