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Frogs and Frogspawn

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 31 Mar 2021 | comments*Discuss
Common Frog Wetland Decline Frogspawn

Frogs have a special place in the hearts of most wildlife pond-keepers if only because they seem so very willing to reward our efforts by using our ponds so readily. Secretive outside the breeding season, frogs make a welcome addition to the garden – not least because they provide a highly effective slug control service, offering protection to the hostas and other tender plants in their adopted patch.

The Common Frog (Rana temporaria) is the most widespread kind throughout Europe – a remarkable survivor, which has increasingly made use of garden ponds as more and more of its natural wetland habitats disappear.

Froggy Goes A-Courting

Frogs usually emerge from hibernation at the beginning of March – though in some years they may put in an appearance even earlier – and spawning takes place from March through into April. At this time of year, these normally silent creatures become quite vocal, their underwater croaking frequently audible from some distance away and this can often be the first sign of their arrival in the pond. If large numbers of frogs are present, this sound has sometimes been likened to the rumble of a distant railway train.

Breeding involves the male grasping the female from behind, locking his forelegs around her body just beneath her armpits – an embrace known as “amplexus” – and he develops a special pad along his thumb to help him get a good grip on his girlfriend’s slippery skin. As she lays her eggs, he will fertilise them.

This instinctive need to find and grab a female sometimes leads to a few misunderstandings, as anything of about the right size may be grasped by a hopeful male – including goldfish and other males! While a female who is not ready to lay – or has already spawned – will bend away and kick at him and another male lets out a very distinct sound to tell our suitor the error of his ways, fish – unable to communicate with the amorous frog – may be grasped for some time before realisation dawns.

Female frogs lay their eggs quite quickly, producing perhaps 1,000 in an hour and laying around 3 – 4,000 in total. When newly laid, the eggs sink to the bottom but as the jelly covering them gradually swells with pond water, they float to the surface, where they remain often for two or three weeks until they hatch into tadpoles. Over the next three months, they develop from quarter-inch long “commas” hiding in weeds, then becoming carnivorous as first hind-legs and then fore-legs grow, before finally going through metamorphosis – changing into tail-less and perfectly formed miniature frogs. These small replicas of their parents then make their way onto land – a rainstorm often triggering large numbers to make the journey, which may well be the origin of the expression “raining frogs.”

Attracting Frogs to the Pond

The good news about frogs is that they are not particularly fussy and will happily use a wide variety of ponds, which makes them very easy to accommodate. The only real absolute necessity is that they will need a way to get out of the water – they can jump in, but an exit route is essential, particularly for the baby frogs. However, to provide them with the ultimate in desirable residences both inside and outside of the breeding season, the pond and its surroundings need to offer them somewhere to hide.

A well planted wildlife pond, especially with a bog garden attached will provide good refuge and building a rockery with lots of nooks and crannies, piling up some old logs or half-sinking old terracotta plant pots or pies beside the pond will meet their needs on dry land. It is also a good idea not to be too diligent when it comes to pruning. The plants growing around the pond’s edge often provide valuable cover to adults and young alike.

Although frogs tend to arrive all on their own, if you simply cannot wait, the quickest way to get the ball rolling is to introduce some frogspawn. Many wildlife ponds attract large numbers of breeding frogs – resulting in far more frogspawn than they can cope with, leaving their owners only to glad to find some of it a new home. If you do not know anyone with excess spawn, the local wildlife trust can often help suggest sources.

The last hundred years have seen the loss of something in the region of 70 per cent of Britain’s natural lakes and wetlands, but fortunately frogs in particular have been very quick to adapt to using garden ponds instead. While amphibian numbers around the world have been suffering significant decline in recent times, the frog seems to be a bit more of a success story – and long may that continue.

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Hi. Just moved onto a new house with a small pond. Have seen 2 frogs in it and we now have frogspawn. The pond sides are steep but not vertical. There is only around 4 -5 inches from the water level to the soil above. Will this be enough for the frogs to get out when they need to? Thank you.
G - 31-Mar-21 @ 4:25 PM
i cannot get frogs back in my pond, its an enclosed garden they use to come in.with water feature perhaps they cant get out, no rocks in there pat
tricia - 25-Feb-21 @ 11:21 AM
how can i get frogs back in my garden its an enclosed garden, perhaps there isnt any rocks in there and maybe they need something for themclambour on to get in. there is a water feature for the pondplease p kings
pat - 25-Feb-21 @ 11:18 AM
A frog in my pond seems to have its intestibes or similar hanging out following spawning, is there anything I can do?
KP - 16-Feb-21 @ 10:29 AM
Hello. Itrying to find an answer as to why some of the tadpoles in our small pond. 1m X 1.5m are much much further developed than others. Some have back legs now. Yet some have barely grown. Still the size of a red lentil plus tail. They all hatched within a week of each other. There seems to be a pattern. There are a minority with leg development. The mid group are medium size with no legs and then the small ones which number about half the mid group in number. I was wondering if the small ones are a macabre living larder for the more advanced ones if they need protein and it but available. Anyone have an idea?
Frogchildren - 25-May-20 @ 2:04 AM
I don't have a pond (yet) but I've just rescued some spawn and small tadpoles that were in a local ditch which was drying up fast. They're now in a plastic trub with ditch water and some weeds from near their site. I've ordered a solar 'bird bath fountain' for it, but now I'm worried it might suck up the tiny tadpoles. What do you think? Anything else I need to do?
Scotia - 21-Apr-20 @ 3:12 PM
I had 2 ponds in my garden and have had frogs and newts for many years - I recently had to cover the top pond for safety and now the frogs have disappeared and there is no frogspawn - what’s going on? they seem to have all left?- could it be because I covered the top pond or does this happen sometimes?
Joanne Thorp - 14-May-19 @ 11:17 PM
Hi I have a barrel pond and even though I have a walled garden well I sunken garden , two or three frogs fell three small frog's must have fallen in I think off the bank 12foot high. !( I was so excitedafteor getting myand filling it and planting it just for a water feature ,oi found a small frog in it !!)In short I made this pond into their home with plant a al around and ramps and it's now good I thought that they hadn't spawned but this morning found about 30 compartments of spawn on the grass by the pond its a tiny garden anyway I put it in the pond. Frogs can't get out of my garden and these two fell in as I say .my problem is that I will be moving in a couple of months ...I plan to find somewhere with a little garden near to water....but I can't leave my barrel pond as my house is rented and landlord will not want me to leave anything all my plants are in pots so I'm taking them all ! Can I empty pond to down to about 6 inches and carefully in my car at the last minute and gradually refill it with rainwater andmaybe I could carefully put my pond water into large containers with lids so can put back some original water too snail's and all etc ...I'm really upset about it all but I have to move house ......I don't have access to any other ponds or river's to put them in. And I'm worried about the fully grown frog's I'm leaving behind as after falling into my garden ,I built a pond especially for them it has weed and plants in it lot's of snail's and I look after it and have loved knowing that they are happy with it. The next tenants will not be having a pondand I think the three frogs will die in the garden as its only about 15 foot square with 200 year old two foot thick wall all around and no escape,and I've sort of built my garden around them and totally for them..also I've let the edges go wild for cover for them but landlord will put it back to flat small lawn and small court yard will be empty of all my cover ants and the places they hung out .I'm do upset I don't know what I can do to save them my friends just say that they will be okay but it's not the case I think .what should I do thanks robbie
rob - 13-Mar-19 @ 12:03 PM
I have just removed a small clump of frog spawn and put it in my new pond. The pond is filled with rainwater and has a few plants in it . WhenI took the spawn it was floating on the surface but sunk immediately I put it in thenew pond. Have they died? They were kept inwater during the transfer, whuck took about an hour.
AB - 2-Mar-19 @ 5:22 PM
Juju - Your Question:
Hi I have a very large and deep dog bowl that a lot of frogs are hiding in from my cats. I’ve created a kind of safe haven and blocked access to the cats. I put the frogs in this bowl of water myself after hearing them screaming in the garden whenever cats tried to play. My question is can they get out of the bowl? They never seem to leave it? I just wondered when they eat?

Our Response:
The frogs may not be able to get out, please take them out and let them find their way to a natural environment where they can find their own food etc.
PondExpert - 30-Jul-18 @ 12:24 PM
Hi I have a very large and deep dog bowl that a lot of frogs are hiding in from my cats. I’ve created a kind of safe haven and blocked access to the cats. I put the frogs in this bowl of water myself after hearing them screaming in the garden whenever cats tried to play. My question is can they get out of the bowl? They never seem to leave it? I just wondered when they eat?
Juju - 27-Jul-18 @ 8:11 AM
Polly - I too had to remove several swollen frogs from my pond at the beginning of March, many of them had died mid spawn, which was very sad. I am bemused as to what has caused this - my only thought is that it could have been the terrible winter we had this year. I now have issues with pinky/purpley stringy algae that is killing off my oxygenators. Son't know if the two are linked?
Crazy Ferret Woman - 4-May-18 @ 9:21 PM
Lots & lots of questions or comments, but where are the answers? I don't see anywhere to reply to a question, very strange site.
BeeJay - 22-Apr-18 @ 3:14 PM
We have found a large clump of huge spawn under a bush in our garden, there used to be a pond but it was filled in by the previous tenant, what should we do with it.
Sue r - 21-Apr-18 @ 10:14 PM
All the the frogspawn in our pond has been eaten by what appears to be small white larvae. This has never happened before. Is there a way of killing off the larvae without harming any frogs?
Goulash - 21-Apr-18 @ 11:24 AM
Can anyone help me I have had a pond for about a month now it was ok until about last week my walls of my pond I've started grow going green does that mean I've got algae but my water is clear
Gav - 18-Apr-18 @ 10:36 AM
We have no frogs or frogspawn this year.We live in Orpington and would like to know whether there are people in the area who have a surplus.Will travel into Kent if necessary.
Froggy - 17-Apr-18 @ 10:28 AM
Donna, I'll tell you what will happen to all those frogs. Unless there are other ponds close by they will have no where to spawn next year. Even if there are other ponds in your vicinity they may be unsuitable or already have maximum occupancy.Please do not fill them in.You will be destroying 2 entire ecosystems, not to mention the host of other wildlife such as birds, hedgehogs and other small creatures who have come to rely on your ponds. Having a pond is the single best thing you can do for wildlife as they support so much life.I understand your concerns about water and children, however, It doesn't mean that you have to get rid of your ponds. They are a wonderful opportunity to teach children a love and respect for nature which will stay with them for life, and as long as children are always supervised ponds will have a hugely positive impact on their lives.I'm not a huge fan of netting but if the only alternative would be to lose my pond then I would use it.In any case, before you do anything so drastic why don't you seek advice from an organisation such as Freshwater Habitats Trust first?
Natalie - 26-Mar-18 @ 8:23 PM
Hi I'm just wondering if you can give me some advice I have 2 large ponds in my garden and unfortunatelyhave to get rid of them because I have a baby and the ponds are deep and take up my whole garden. My ponds are really established and I have an abundance of frogs andfrogspawn we counted 200 frogs yesterday all breading and very noisy and I love it but what will happen to these frogs when the ponds go om worried about them. Thanks donna
Donna - 17-Mar-18 @ 2:43 PM
I am finding scores of tiny frogs in my garden but have no pond! The nearest pond is across a field. I am mystified as to where they are coming from as it seems impossible forsuch tiny creatures to traverse a field. Any ideas?
mog - 19-Jul-14 @ 10:40 AM
I went into the garden this morning to find a lot of partially formed froglets with tales and four legs laying dead around the edge of the pond. It appears they got out of the pond and then dried out and died. I've never seen this before. I understand frogs will dry out in the sun but why would partially formed froglets try to leave the pond and go to their deaths? There are still other tadpoles living in the pond quite happily. Any ideas?
Bucko - 28-Jun-14 @ 11:52 PM
My pond is a frog nursery as usual, but, why have the frogs laid their spawn in one huge lump, almost on top of the rocks around the edge of the pond. Surely a warm sun will dry it up? I'm new to frogs as I've always been scared to death of them, but having moved to a house with a large pond in situ, I've realised I'd better get used to them. I'm sure they're more scared of me anyway. I'm still a bit scared of them, but wouldn't Iike them to lose their babies because the spawn is above water.
Newtofrogs - 5-Apr-14 @ 2:41 PM
Hi I live in Sheffield and have two ponds, one for wildlife which is very large.I have just picked up 11 dead adult frogs and 1 dead toad.I have never seen anything like this before can anyone explain why this could have happened?
cinders - 28-Mar-14 @ 4:35 PM
my frogs are dying in my pond,This has never happened before and have used nothing differant in my pond.Have been told there is a disease going around called dead leg but only in London,Im in Yorkshire so cant see it being that,Any idea what i can do to save my frogs from dying,
Jill. - 1-Sep-13 @ 2:22 PM
Hi i work with children i was going to catch a frog and take it into work for tge childtren to see then rslease it back after is this a good idea if so what would i need to do to ensure they are ok ?
abi - 25-Apr-13 @ 8:00 PM
i once digged a hole in my front lawn inbetween 2 trees, about half a year later there was thousands of tadpoles but most died from eating eachother and the others turned into frogs and jumped away since then i have had no tadpoles in their, my question is, why?
britt - 24-Dec-12 @ 12:24 AM
I have been keeping frogs for about the last 12 years. Four years ago I bought two big eye'd tree frogs at a reptile show. They were both asleep in little plastic containers when I bought them. When I got home and set up a tank and placed them in it I discovered that one of the frogs appeared to have some kind of neurological problem. When he sat up he leaned to one side. When he hopped he fell over on his back. I put him in a plastic critter keeper with a small water dish and several small crickets so it wouldn't be hard for him to find crickets. I also offered him crickets by hand and since he was thin, probably because he had a hard time catching crickets, he eagerly grabbed the crickets from my fingers. I've been offering him a cricket or two everyday since I got him and he's plumb and if I pick him up he's very relaxed, I'm sure because he knows I'm his meal ticket. I became very attached to my big eyed tree frogs, not only because of the extra time I spent with them but because they're so cute and have great personalities. In November of 2010 my husband bought me a couple more big eye'd tree frogs and all four were doing fine until a few days ago when one of the more recent ones suddenly developed all the same symptoms of my little crippled one. Until the other day he'd been perfectly normal, hopping all over the tank and enjoying running around the tank on the glass at night. Now he falls over when he tries to hop and leans to one side when he sits up. So far he won't take food from my fingers. I did isolate him for the time being until he gets used to his new situation. I want to know what happened to him. And if it's something common, why just the big eye tree frogs? I've had Whites treefrogs, poison dart frogs, red eye tree frogs, tomato frogs, Malasian leaf frogs, oriental firebelly toads, an American toad, woodhouse toads and several others and this has never happened to any other frogs. My frogs do get vitamins and calcium weekly on their crickets. I would like very much to know what is causing these stroke like symptoms. It's so sad watching them struggle. The one that has been this way for the entire four years I've had him does much better now. He's learned to hop short distances without falling over and can hop up on a rock as long as it isn't too high. He's learned to live with his disabilities. I'm just hoping the other one does as well. Karen
Karen - 29-May-12 @ 2:00 PM
It sounds like I am having a similar problem and I am not sure if I should interfere. I reinstalled the pond pump and filter about 5 weeks ago and all was going well. Soon after frogs were mating and before long we had a decent amount of spawn in clumps - some on the bottom of the pond and some attached to / near to the oxygen plant. I then added the following one day at a time: some filter start product, some barley straw, some plant nutrients, and some tetra medifin to keep parasites at bay, some ceramic tubes (roughly 500) into the filter for bacteria colonisation. The spawn floated to the top and didn't stay in clumps - It spread into a single layer and took a greeny colored hue. I now have greeny foam scum everywhere which the fish seem to be just gobbling at and eating all the spawn of which I believe most is now dead or eaten. Should I interfere or let nature take its course? Many Thanks
Paul - 26-Mar-12 @ 11:29 PM
i have a small pond about 1 meter wide and i dont have any frogs/frogspawn. i had some hibernating and theyhave gone. the only frog i have had in my pond was one i saved from a drain so it wasnt nateral. i live with a big wood behind my fence ( the pond is next to the fence). i have made a nice nateral place with flowers and things to hide in. does anyone know why ive got no frogs/frogspawn????
jon - 18-Mar-12 @ 4:29 PM
There is a field through which I walk in the morning, round ( cylindrical) bales of silage wrapped in black polythene have beenleft lying on their side, overwinter.The top is approximately 1.2 m. from the ground, the sides are curved and the poly covering is very slippery.This morning I noticedseveral small clumps of frog /toad spawn on top of one of these bales.The mystery is how did this amphibian get up there to lay the spawn.There were no dismembered body parts in the vicinity. Photographs are available
curious - 7-Mar-12 @ 3:31 PM
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