Spawned!

(A Gardens Month blog on Frogs and Toads)

From jelly-like spawn, to wriggling tadpoles, and finally hopping croaking adult amphibians, the life story of frogs and toads is familiar to many of us from early childhood. Increasingly however, contact with nature is diminishing in children’s lives, and frogs and toads are struggling too. Ponds are disappearing under development or silting up through neglect, busy roads block toad migration routes, and pesticides annihilate the invertebrate food frogs rely on.

Why Frogs and toads?

Frogs and toads are an important part of the wetland or garden ecosystem. They are also one of the gardeners best friends as they love nothing better than to spend the night amongst your plants gobbling up the slugs and other pests!

Spot the difference

Common Frog Rana temoraria Common Toad Bufo bufo
Up to 8cm in length
Smooth skin.
Olive green in colour but variable
Dark mark behind eye and striped on
legs.
Long legs – fast and jumpy!
Pointed head and large round eyes
Spawn laid in jelly-like clumps
Up to 10-15cm in length
Warty skin.
Usually grey-brown.
Golden eyes with more oval/slit
shaped pupils than frogs
Crouched, crawls with small
hops
Large ‘poison glands’ on side of
head, seen as lumps behind
the eyes
Spawn laid in long strings

Myth-busted

Fogs and toads don’t spend all their lives in ponds. In fact, you’re just as likely to find one lurking behind your flowerpots or foraging in long grass and damp leaf litter. Whilst they must return to ponds to breed in the spring (usually to the same one every year, often the one they hatched from!) the adults spend a lot of time in other habitats such as log piles, ditches and flower borders. They do however need water nearby, as they must remain cool and damp. Some will return to ponds to hibernate for the winter, others will bury down under log piles or in the bottom of a compost heap.

Top 3 for the Amphibian Friendly Garden

1: Build a pond – even the smallest garden can include a water feature of some kind.

2: Give the mower a rest – areas of slightly longer grass will remain damper, and host insects; perfect for frogs and toads on the move!

3: Go chemical free – important for any wildlife friendly garden is to ban the bottles of pesticide and herbicide from your shed! Use natural control methods and encourage a natural balance of predators to deal with the pests.

This year, the RHS’ and Wildlife Trust’s join project ‘Wild About Gardens’ is going wild about ponds – find our more and download your free pond guide here: https://wildaboutgardens.org.uk/

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