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Types of Tadpoles

Updated April 10, 2017

Tadpoles are also known as polliwogs and pollywiggles, and they are the completely aquatic form of a frog or toad. There are five main families of tadpoles that species can be categorised into based on certain identification characteristics. These five families are Bufonidae, Ranidae, Hylidae, Microhylidae and Pelobatidae.

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This family of tadpoles is made up of species that evolve into true toads, with more than 35 different genera of bufonids.


This family of tadpoles is known as true frogs, with the widest frog distribution as Ranidae tadpoles and frogs can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. The Ranidae family of frogs also has the greatest variety of sizes, ranging from the very small to very large.


Most of the frogs in this wide-ranging family are tree frogs, although this is one of the most diverse families of frogs, including both terrestrial and tree frog varieties.


This is a large family of frogs encompassing 413 species, making it the largest of all frog families. These are mostly smaller sized frogs, with the largest being only 3.5 inches in length and most falling below 0.59 inches in length.


This family describes European spadefoot toads, and there are seven species in this family which eventually grow to as large as 3.9 inches in length with feet designed for digging.

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About the Author

Jennifer Uhl

Jennifer Uhl has been writing professionally since 2005. She writes primarily for the web and has been published as a ghostwriter in "Tropical Fish Magazine" and "Entrepreneur." She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in health care from Mira Costa College.

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