Attracting and keeping frogs and toads in your garden will help reduce pest populations naturally without the need for pesticides. Here are some tips on how to attract and encourage frogs and toads to live in your garden.
Earlier this spring, I spotted a hole in the soil in one of my raised beds while walking the garden. When I returned a few days later, I saw that the hole was larger. Last year, I had a huge problem with voles in the garden that reduced my yield of potatoes and carrots.
“Not this year!” I thought as I inspected the hole with my gloved hand. I pulled away some of the soil from the edge of the hole and spotted something grey inside. I grabbed my garden trowel and dug down beneath the grey thing and carefully lifted it up. The grey blob was covered with dirt, but moved every so slightly. I almost screamed, but I was determined to figure out what it was. I dropped the shovel full of soil and grabbed the grey thing with my gloved hands. It took a few seconds for me to identify it. As the soil dropped away, I saw that it was a rather large toad!
It wasn’t moving much, and its eyes were closed tight. I looked it over carefully and was so glad I didn’t hurt it with my garden trowel. I carved out a shallow hole and placed the toad back into the ground while I searched the yard for a rock or piece of wood to use as a roof for the temporary toad home. When I returned and peered into the hole, I was astounded to see that the toad was gone! I found it again when I poked into the loose soil. It buried itself that quickly and blended with the soil. I placed the roof over the hole to leaving a small opening and covered it with last year’s straw.
I checked on the toad a day later and spotted it at the entrance of the opening warming itself in the spring sunshine. After shaking the winter hibernation sleepiness, the toad will return to its birthplace to spawn. This toad will probably hop to the edge of the yard and down the bank to a small stream that winds through the woods. I hope it makes it back to the garden for the summer.
- Why You WANT Frogs and Toads in Your Garden
- How to Attract Frogs and Toads to Your Garden
- Good planning is key to a successful vegetable garden.
- Make a frog and toad abode
- 4 Simple Tricks to Attract Frogs & Toads to Your Garden
- How to Attract Frogs & Toads
- Provide Water for Frogs and Toads
- Eliminate Chemicals from Your Routine
- Create Shelter and Places for Amphibians to Hide
- Add a Small Pond to Keep Frogs and Toads Happy
- Other Water Features to Attract Amphibians to Your Garden
- If You Feed Them, They Will Come
- Choose the Right Plants to Lure Frogs and Toads to Your Yard
- Things to Avoid so Your Garden Welcomes Amphibians
- Videos About Frogs and Toads
- Want to Learn More About Frogs and Toads?
- Attracting Toads to Your Garden
- Frog Care 101: What You Need to Know Before You Get a Frog
- Guide to frogs and toads: when do they spawn and how to care for them
- Our expert guide to frogs and toads explains what frogspawn is, what to look out for and how to care for the amphibians in your garden.
- Do Frogs make Good Pets?
Why You WANT Frogs and Toads in Your Garden
Frogs and toads are both amphibians and belong to the Anura order. Although they are similar, frogs and toads are easily distinguished by certain traits. Toads have dry, bumpy skin and spend most of their lives on land. In winter, toads hibernate on land beneath the frost line. They burrow down in the soil using their back legs.
Frogs have moist smooth skin and spend most of their lives in or near water. When I started gardening, my first amphibian friend was a pickerel frog. I was surprised to learn that frogs don’t spend all of their time in water, but will venture out to grassy areas in search of food. This one stayed in the garden all summer hiding away under boards and in between the foliage in the herb garden. It would startle me once in a while by jumping out of the foliage when I disturbed its hiding place. In the winter, Pickerel frogs hibernate in the mud debris and silt of ponds or streams.
Both frogs and toads are beneficial to the garden because they feed on many pests such as, bugs, beetles, caterpillars, cutworms, grasshoppers, grubs, slugs, and a variety of other pests. A single frog can eat over 100 insects in one night. Attracting and keeping frogs and toads in your garden will help moderate pest populations without the need for chemical or natural pesticides.
How to Attract Frogs and Toads to Your Garden
If you have a pond, brook, or water feature near you, you probably have frogs and toads nearby. Here are some of the ways to attract them to your garden and invite them to stay:
Eliminate Chemicals: Pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and herbicides can poison frogs and toads. Frogs and toads breathe and drink through their skin. Eliminate chemicals and garden organically. Build healthy soil, companion plant, and use crop rotation and organic gardening techniques. Encouraging frogs or toads to stay in your garden will take care of any insects naturally.
Offer Shelter: Most toads and frogs are nocturnal and avoid sun to prevent dehydration. They prefer damp, shady areas and need shelter to hide from predators and escape the heat from the daytime sun. Create a shelter by arranging stones into a small cave. You can also use a clay or ceramic flowerpot as housing. Turn the pot upside down and prop it up with rocks leaving enough room for the frog or toad to slip inside. Locate your shelter in a quiet area that has a lot of shade.
Provide Water: Toads and frogs don’t drink through their mouth. Instead, they absorb moisture into their bodies by sitting in water. Place several shallow containers of water in the shade near the shelter. Rinse the containers out at least once week and fill with fresh water. Tanya at Lovely Greens built a small wildlife pond to attract frogs to her garden.
Attracting and encouraging toads and frogs to live in your garden keeps the pest population down and reduces the need for pesticides or other natural insect deterrents. Just one frog or toad can eat up to 10,000 pests during the garden season. Toads and frogs will often return to the same location from year to year as long as the environment is pleasant and there is plenty to eat.
Caution: You may not want to encourage frogs and toads to stay if you have dogs that enjoy hunting down toads. As a defense mechanism against predators, most toads release skin secretions which produce a foul-smelling odor and can be toxic to dogs and other animals.
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Whether you are new to growing your own food or have been growing a vegetable garden for years, you will benefit from some planning each year. You will find everything you need to organize and plan your vegetable garden in my PDF eBook, Grow a Good Life Guide to Planning Your Vegetable Garden.
Make a frog and toad abode
- Choose your location. Basically you need somewhere where you can dig a hole in the ground about 30-45 cm deep where you can part-bury your collection of logs and stones. A shady or semi-shady spot is ideal. It doesn’t necessarily have to be near a pond, but within a hop and a leap of one is no bad thing. If you’ve already dug a damp ditch for diversity, you could use part of the bank you created when doing that!
- Dig a round hole with a flat bottom. Pile the soil to one side as you go. Once big enough, fill it with your assorted rubble and logs. The idea is that the bricks and rocks are stable enough that they won’t collapse and crush creatures within, but at the same time don’t pack it all down. Imagine you are creating a higgledy-piggledy underground maze. There has got to be a myriad of hidden winding corridors ranging from a few millimetres wide through to a few centimetres, all leading deep into the pile.
- Continue to pile material up above ground level – it is really useful to continue to build the pile into a low mound.
- To cap it off. If you’ve go some, put some builders ballast over the rubble and logs, followed by the soil back over the top. What you don’t want to do is close up all of the entrances – you still need to be able to see lots of gaps around the edges. You can pile the soil over the back half of the abode so that the front entrances are all clear of soil.
- Finishing touches. If you like, sprinkle a little wildflower seed over the soil on top of and around the edges of your mansion – amphibians will love their garden path being damp and sheltered. Or you could just add some branches and twigs for camouflage. Over time, rain and gravity will push some of the soil back down into the holes, so after several years you may need to create another home. But this one should last for a few seasons.
- Why not pop out with a torch on a damp evening in spring or summer to see if any residents are emerging?
4 Simple Tricks to Attract Frogs & Toads to Your Garden
Frogs and toads are invaluable neighbors in the garden as they naturally prey on common garden pests. Here are four simple tricks to attract more frogs and toads to your garden.
How to Attract Frogs & Toads
1. Build Frog Shelters in the Garden
Create a sanctuary for the frogs and toads by placing natural frog shelters or toad houses around the backyard. Natural frog shelters could consist of large rocks, dead wood, and tree stumps. Place them in shady garden spots where they have easy access to a water source.
If you are looking to attract tree frogs then create a safe hangout spot for them by installing tree frog tubes around the yard. As demonstrated by this video, you can use PVC pipes (With drilled holes) to create a favorable environment for the frogs.
2. Don’t Eliminate All the Insects
The frogs and toads will only stick around your garden if there is a regular source of food for them to feed on. Don’t eliminate the pests unless they are a serious problem. Let the frogs (and other wildlife) handle the problem for you. Frogs like to feed on all sorts of insects including roaches, grasshoppers, and moths.
3. Add a Water Fountain to the Yard
Consider adding some sort of fountain in your garden to attract the frogs. The sound of running water may entice the frogs to investigate your garden.
You may want to also build a small pond in your yard. Toads don’t need it as much but frogs like to stay close to the water.
4. Install Low-Voltage Garden Lights
Install small low-voltage lights near your pond to attract insects at night. The frogs will have an easier meal time if the insects all gather in one area.
Sam Choan is the Founder of Organic Lesson. He started this site to share tips on using natural remedies at home when such options are available.
by Matt Gibson
So, why would you want to entice a family of frogs or toads to hang out in your garden croaking all the time? You might be surprised by the answer. Attracting frogs and toads into your garden is a pesticide-free and natural way of greatly lowering your pest population.
Frogs and toads are seasoned predators with nearly insatiable appetites, and they dine exclusively on insects, so having a few on hand can help reduce pests in your garden. That means you don’t ever have to worry about sharing your produce with the local insect population or being forced to spray your precious plants with chemicals to get rid of pests.
That said, do not run to the pet store and purchase frogs and toads to release into your garden. Deploying an army of storebought amphibians is a bad idea for multiple reasons. Pet stores usually carry non-native species of frogs and toads, and it is actually illegal to release non-native frogs or toads in most areas because they can end up taking over the ecosytsem pretty quickly, crowding or even killing out native species. Either that, or the non-native amphibians quickly die off, as they cannot survive outside of their native environment.
Instead of importing a frog or toad family to go to work on your garden pests, simply create an environment that will lure these tiny helpers into your garden. Once you’ve created the proper habitat, as long as your garden have bugs for them to feed on, the frogs and toads are sure to come after them. Just follow these tips to make the frogs and toads hop your way.
Provide Water for Frogs and Toads
Instead of drinking by using their mouths, frogs and toads actually hydrate by submerging themselves in a body of water and absorbing water through their skin. Adding a water feature to your property is a wonderful way to make your garden an amphibian haven. If you’re up to the challenge, see the section of this article on adding a small pond.
If that is not an option, consider this alternative—that doesn’t require renovating your garden—to give your local frogs or toads the water they need to survive. All you need to do is place several containers filled with water in a shady area in your garden. Be sure to clean the containers and change out the water at least once per week.
If you skip the upkeep, you risk creating a habitat for breeding mosquitoes instead of the friendly, beneficial amphibians you’re working to attract. See the section on adding a shelter to make the most of your newly frog-friendly garden.
Eliminate Chemicals from Your Routine
Pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers can poison and even kill frogs and toads. You won’t be needing pesticides any more, now that you have a thriving predator population—and many gardeners prefer using organic fertilizers instead of synthetics anyway. Building healthy soil, employing companion planting, and rotating crops will also help keep your garden/amphibian habitat healthy and happy for years to come.
Create Shelter and Places for Amphibians to Hide
The majority of toads and frogs are nocturnal creatures, so they take care to avoid large doses of sunlight to prevent dehydration. These insect-eaters love damp, shady areas and prefer to relax in the comfort of a natural shelter, both to stay cool and to keep out of the way of predators.
Create a frog and toad shelter near one of your garden’s water sources by stacking stones together to create a small cave-like hollow where amphibians can relax. Another cozy hideaway could be created elsewhere in the garden using an upside-down flower pot that’s lifted from the ground by a few rocks so that frogs and toads can crawl into the cool interior and hide inside on warm afternoons.
Add a Small Pond to Keep Frogs and Toads Happy
Ideally, having a small pond in your garden is the best way to ensure a healthy frog and toad population. Build your pond in an area of the garden that is primarily shady but still gets some sunlight. The perfect toad or frog pond would be approximately 20 inches deep at the center, with a gradually inclining bottom that moves outwards from the center. The water feature should be as shallow as eight inches around its edges. The pond also needs a gently sloping exit, or some rocks that stick out of the water, to provide a way for the frogs or toads to exit easily.
Amphibians, especially tadpoles and other young ones, enjoy a muddy bottom layer. Dig the dirt up from the area you’ve chosen for your pond. Remove any rocks, sticks, roots, or other debris that could damage the pond’s soft bottom. Place a liner down, such as polyethylene or EPDM rubber, to cover the section that you’ve dug up and create a tight water barrier. Make sure that your liner is big enough to cover the entirety of your pond with at least two feet of excess material on all sides.
Your pond still needs a muddy bottom, however, because tadpoles like to lay down in the muck and filter the food they eat through the mud so that it picks up algae and a variety of organisms that help them grow. So after the liner is in place, you’ll need to put back all that dirt you removed so your pool provides the muddy bottom frogs and toads need.
Don’t add fish to your frog and toad pond, as even the smaller species of fish will feed on the amphibian eggs, larvae, and even the adults. If you have pets, they’re also a potential threat to your pond wildlife, so you may want to put some type of barrier, like a wire fence, around the pool. It’s also important to use a fence if you have small children, as they may be tempted to capture the animals, and the pond is also a potential drowning hazard.
Other Water Features to Attract Amphibians to Your Garden
Though creating your own backyard pond to house your frog and toad population is the ideal water source solution, building a pond yourself is not always possible. However, amphibians do require a water source that’s large enough to let them submerge themselves in order to stay hydrated. Frogs need water nearby in order to reproduce as well, since they spawn their offspring in water.
The ideal water source will accommodate both young and adult frogs and/or toads by containing both deep and shallow areas. If this type of pond is not possible, large, shallow containers are the best alternative. As with the pond, these shallow containers should be positioned in the shade and near a shelter where frogs and toads can hide from the heat of the day as well as the teeth of predators.
If You Feed Them, They Will Come
The main reason to court frogs and toads and invite them into your garden getaway is to keep annoying insects from damaging your crops and pestering you and your guests. Frogs and toads rely on insects, from giant moths to tiny larvae, and everything in between, for nutrition. Neither frogs or toads are picky eaters. Insects of any kind are potential prey: Beetles, aphids, cockroaches, snails, slugs, flies, and more are all potential lunch.
In order to ensure that your amphibious friends have an ample food source, there are several things that you can do to help. Plant a wide variety of native plants and shrubs, including several seasonal flowering plants that attract insects all year long. Keep a compost heap, and mulch your garden beds every fall. Do your best to plant an assortment of flowering plants that will produce blooms at different times so something is always blooming during the spring, summer, and fall months.
Choose the Right Plants to Lure Frogs and Toads to Your Yard
You might be surprised how many common garden plants are actually poisonous to frogs and toads. Vegetables to avoid planting include eggplant, rhubarb, snow peas, and potatoes, Flowers to avoid in your frog-friendly garden habitat include honeysuckle, hyacinth, hydrangea, azalea, and daffodils. Check this complete list of plant species that are harmful to amphibians to make sure the ones you grow aren’t included.
What plants are the best choices for stocking a frog/toad habitat? Long, thin, vertical-stemmed plants, such as reeds, rushes, and sedges, are frog favorites that serve a practical function as well. After breeding, amphibians attach their egg sacks to the base of plants like these just below the water’s surface. These egg sacks are a tasty treat for birds and snakes, so provide lots of foliage to help your frog and toad neighbors to hide their offspring from these predators.
Things to Avoid so Your Garden Welcomes Amphibians
Once your garden is set to double as a frog/toad habitat, there are a few words of caution that you should heed. Keep your grass as short as possible, mowing often to avoid killing your frogs and toads when mowing. Frogs and toads love to hide in tall grasses, so keeping your lawn clipped short helps avoid accidental fatalities.
If you are using mesh to protect your garden’s plants, keep an eye on it and make sure that it is kept taut. Also, use a mesh size that is at least 1.5 inches or larger, as smaller mesh sizes can trap frogs or toads and can kill them slowly if they end up trapped underneath it.
If you are a dog or cat owner, keep your pets out of your frog/toad habitat area. Pets will likely hunt and kill your amphibian friends for sport, which could drive away the frogs and toads that you are trying to attack and could also make your pets sick.
It is vital to protect your garden’s frogs and toads during the winter. The winter months are a hibernation period for most amphibians. You will find your frogs or toads at the bottom of your water sources. If your water source freezes, your garden pets will die due to lack of oxygen. Keep an eye on your pond or water source, and pour a pan of hot water into it during dips in temperature to keep the water from freezing solid and suffocating your frogs/toads.
Videos About Frogs and Toads
Check out this short film about why frogs and toads are valuable to gardeners and how you can start attracting frogs and toads to your garden today:
What is the difference between a frog and a toad? If you don’t know the answer, watch this video:
Really interested in frogs and toads? Did you know that frogs and toads have a history that dates back over 230 million years? Learn about their history and more in this documentary about frogs and toads, two of the most popular amphibians in the world:
Last, while you wait for your amphibians to arrive, you can simulate their presence with this four-minute clip collection of frogs and toads croaking:
Want to Learn More About Frogs and Toads?
Birds & Blooms covers Why Toads are Valuable in the Garden
dengarden covers How to Attract Toads to Your Garden
Gardening Know How covers How to Attract Toads
Grow A Good Life covers How to Attract Toads and Frogs to Your Garden
Natural Living Ideas covers 9 Ways to Attract Frogs & Toads to Your Garden
Attracting Toads to Your Garden
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Toads make great gardening partners. They eat insects, slugs and snails and ask for very little in return. Help attract these natural predators to your garden.
Create an inviting habitat for these critters. Leave some leaf litter under trees and shrubs and in the garden.
Include a shallow pond or water feature. Even a shallow saucer filled with chlorine-free water is effective. Place rocks in and around the water for added toad appeal.
Reduce, or better yet, eliminate the use of pesticides. These can be harmful to the toads and kill the insects they like to eat.
Purchase a toad abode from a local potter or make your own from a ceramic or clay pot. Place it in a shady location near a garden filled with protein-rich insects. Set it directly on the soil so the toad can dig. Elevate one side with stones or use a cracked or broken pot that provides an entryway for the toad.
A bit more information: Include native plants in your landscape whenever possible. These plants attract more insects and in turn the animals, like toads, that eat them. Add little bluestem, prairie dropseed and other clumping native grasses that provide great daytime hideouts for the toads.
Frog Care 101: What You Need to Know Before You Get a Frog
By Vanessa Voltolina
You may be considering an amphibian, such as a frog or toad, for your next pet. But before you bring your new pet home, it’s important to do your research. “Each species of frog requires different care and buyers need to do their homework before one,” said Cinthia Fabretti, DVM, of Animalis Veterinary.
Researching your frog of choice before taking it home will allow you to understand its specific needs, where to buy it, what it will eat and what its ideal habitat will be. Here, learn more about how to care for your pet frog.
Are Frogs a Good First Pet?
“Any animal can be a good first pet for a child as long as they have parental support, supervision, and above all, education on the animal,” said Erica Mede, president and founder of Friends of Scales Reptile Rescue. Frogs are a hands-off pet for the most part, and require a high standard of husbandry—which includes nutrition, housing, handling techniques, hygiene, health maintenance and disease prevention—to meet their needs and keep them healthy, she added.
Kristin Claricoates, DVM at Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital, agrees, adding that appropriate expectations are also key. “Frogs are pets to be appreciated from a distance, and not to be cuddled, pet, or handled frequently,” she said.
When handling frogs, you should use moistened latex or vinyl gloves for your frog’s safety. Anything on your hands can irritate a frog’s skin (from sunscreen to soaps and lotions) and some species of frogs secrete toxins from their skin. These are especially a concern when children are involved, as they may not be as thorough in washing their hands after contact with their pet.
Depending on your child’s age and temperament, a “look but not touch” approach may not be realistic and if this is the case, a frog may not be the right pet for your family at this time, said Claricoates.
Where to Buy a Pet Frog
Experts suggest obtaining a pet frog from local rescues if possible. “I recommend rescuing from places such as a local herpetological society or bonafide reptile rescue,” said Mede. Fabretti and Claricoates also advocate for animal rescues. Frogs can also be found through species-specific breeders and pet stores. Asking friends with pet frogs or an exotic animal veterinarian in the area may also help you find your best options for adopting or where to go to buy your frog, she added.
What Kind of Frog Should You Get?
It all depends upon your living situation, expectations and the time you can dedicate to your froggy friend. However, there are some appropriate options for pets and it’s important to know the difference between a toad and a frog as you start your research. Frogs and toads are both Anurian amphibians, with toads often identified by dry, warty skin and short legs and frogs identified by their smooth skin, Claricoates said. Their habitats also differ from each other: most frogs prefer to be around water while toads like dry land.
“African dwarf frogs are excellent frogs,” said Mede. They require excellent water quality in their tanks, however, since they are totally aquatic (and can even be kept in aquariums with fish of similar size). She also recommends fire-bellied toads, milk frogs, horned frogs and White’s tree frogs, which are all excellent, hardy species.
The age of the frog you purchase does not matter, necessarily, said Claricoates. “Some owners prefer getting a fully grown frog because this means you have a little more leeway as you go through the educational process and growing pains of having a new pet,” she said. Young frogs are still growing, she added, and without perfect nutrition, such as using a calcium and vitamin supplement on their food, the risk of metabolic bone disease in a frog can be quite high.
Your Frog’s Diet
“Generally speaking, I would recommend a diet that offers variety and optimal nutrition,” said Mede. Crickets have long been a staple of frog keepers, but lack the nutrition necessary for appropriate growth and health, she added. If you feed your pet crickets a few times per week, they should be ‘dusted’ with a vitamin/mineral supplement before giving them to your frog or toad.
According to Claricoates, frogs and toads are meat eaters, with the best meals taking the form of fruit flies and other insects to large mice (depending on the frog species). Either way, frogs depend upon high-quality protein from animal-based fatty acids and minimal carbohydrates. Research your particular species or consult care guidelines from reputable pet stores for the diet specific to your frog.
Mede agrees, recommending a mix of earthworms (cut to size as needed), crickets, dubia roaches and soft body prey items, such as silk worms and horn worms. She notes that different species will need different food items, stressing the importance of researching your specific frog species to determine what it will eat. For example, adult South American horned frogs (commonly called Pac-Man frogs because of their large mouth, rounded body and large appetite) can consume a small rodent occasionally—but a rodent may not be appropriate for a different type of frog.
A type of disease that can be transferred between people and animals
The art of raising farm animals and farming
The process of making something larger by dilating or stretching it
A term used to refer to an animal, usually a reptile, that starts out breathing with the help of gills and develops into an animal capable of breathing through lungs like a mammal.
Guide to frogs and toads: when do they spawn and how to care for them
Our expert guide to frogs and toads explains what frogspawn is, what to look out for and how to care for the amphibians in your garden.
How to tell the difference between frogs and toads
First things first, it’s important to know what you are dealing with – frogs or toads. This is actually very simple to find out. Frogspawn is always laid in clumps, whilst toadspawn comes in long chains like strings of pearls draped over pond weed and submerged plants.
How to identify a frog
- There are two types of frog native to the UK – the common frog and the pool frog.
- Common frog adults will grow to around 9cm long
- Their colouring is usually green or brown
- Most have irregular dark blotches on the back and behind the eye, known as a “mask”
- The pool frog females can grow to around 9cm
- Males are much smaller
- Their colouring is usually dark brown
- They have a yellow stripe down the middle of their backs
- Frogspawn is always laid in clumps
Frog sitting on rock, Scotland, UK (Getty)
How to identify a toad
- The common toad grows to around 8cm long
- They are usually a shade of brown, green or grey
- The belly is often pale with dark speckles
How long does it take frogspawn to hatch?
It takes frogspawn roughly three weeks to hatch after spawning. Each tadpole is around 12cm and brown in colour.
How to look after spawn in your garden
It is important to know that as long as you haven’t introduced additional frogs into your pond, there is no such thing as too much spawn. Unfortunately it’s a tough life for a tadpole – they have a number of natural predators and are susceptible to various amphibian diseases. Because of this, female frogs lay thousands of egg each year and only a tiny fraction of them will survive to adulthood. Your pond may contain a big black mass of writhing tadpoles, but this is how it is meant to be. Just kick back and enjoy watching these amazing amphibians.
HOW TO IDENTIFY FROGSPAWN
It is easy to identify frogspawn as it is always laid in clumps.
Don’t move spawn or tadpoles into a different pond, as this can spread non-native plant species and amphibian diseases. Ponds that already contain spawn may not be able to support the increased population, and ponds that don’t have any spawn are unlikely to be suitable for frogs – if they were suitable, the spawn would already be there. There are many reasons why a pond may not contain frogs, and one of the most common explanations is newts.
HOW TO IDENTIFY TOADSPAWN
Unlike frogspawn, toadspawn coming in a string of spawn. When spawning does occur, female toads produce long strings of eggs, rather than the clusters of spawn laid by frogs.
Newts and frogs are not mutually exclusive, but they do tend to have a bit of a boom-bust relationship. Newts eat tadpoles, so ponds with lots of newts tend to have fewer frogs. This isn’t always going to be the case though. A decrease in frogs means a decrease in tadpoles and that can lead to fewer newts. Then, frog numbers will start to increase.
This doesn’t always happen, it may just be that your pond is more suitable for newts than frogs. This isn’t a bad thing, newts are awesome too and their habitat is just as important as frog habitat.
Common frogs (Rana temporaria) and spawn in pond, West Runton, North Norfolk. (Getty)
How to care for frogs and toads in your garden
Toads and frogs play an important role as predators in the garden and might be missed in any bonfire checks. Adults and froglets spend autumn preparing for hibernation, feeding on insects, slugs and worms.
By taking the following easy steps all community bonfire organisers and family celebrations can ensure that wildlife isn’t harmed.
- Build a bonfire as close to the night as possible
- Before lighting, search for amphibians and hedgehogs using a torch and a rake
- Move and any animals to somewhere dry and safe away from the fire
- Gardeners can also help amphibians and hedgehogs in advance by piling autumn leaves or logs in undisturbed areas providing excellent winter nests
Sometimes you get spawn, in fact you get massive clumps of it, and then nothing happens – the spawn fails and turns to mush. It is frustrating when this happens and unfortunately it can sometimes be hard to find a reason for it. More often than not, though, it is down to the pond. The two things that all spawn desperately needs to develop properly are light and warmth. You need to let the sunshine in to your pond for tadpoles to thrive.
Sometimes a closer look is needed, especially as the growing tadpoles change and develop quickly. (Getty)
It may be cold outside but amphibians are already on the move looking for suitable ponds to spawn in. I don’t know if I’ll be lucky enough to get any in my pond this year but I’m excited to find out, and hopefully you are too.
How to look out for spawning toads
Across the country in January and February, our common toad population will be making its often epic and daring migrations to ponds to breed. These nocturnal wanderings can take them across busy roads where sadly many are killed. You may even spot a toad crossing road sign on your journeys.
A Toad crossing sign besides a country lane and pond.
But those who survive the journey make it to ponds where the real action begins. Male toads engage in rather grotesque wrestling bouts with rivals for access to a female – who’s usually at the bottom of every ruck.
In clear ponds, you can see several balls of toads – all limbs and eyes, like a fantasy monster. Sometimes, the males become so engrossed in battling each other that some drown, unable to reach the surface to breathe.
Common toads (Bufo bufo-Komplex), pair spawning, spawn and aquatic plants in a pond, pairing (Getty) Advertisement
When spawning does occur, female toads produce long strings of eggs, rather than the clusters of spawn laid by frogs. The tadpoles behave differently to those of frogs too – swimming in shoals rather than individually. Toad tadpoles are also unpalatable to fish, unlike their froggy relatives.
Large number of toad tadpoles in Norfolk dyke.
Do Frogs make Good Pets?
Have you ever considered keeping a pet frog? You should! Frogs make great pets, as long as some things are kept in mind. Frogs are relatively easy and inexpensive to keep, can be long lived, make great display animals, provide many educational opportunities for children, low maintenance, and definitely have that cool/exotic factor going for them!
Compared to many other pets, such as dogs, cats, and the like, frogs are relatively inexpensive to keep as pets. While initial startup costs, such as the enclosure and husbandry supplies, may run in the $100-$300 range, basic maintenance costs are very low compared to many other pets. Frogs tend to eat much less than other animals, and that food tends to be cheap! There are ways of keeping startup costs down, such as purchasing a Complete Care Kit.
Something that may surprise most of you is how long a pet frog can live if properly cared for. Some species can easily surpass 15-25 years in age! While a frog living that long is a fair mix of luck and excellent husbandry practices, lifespans of 5-10 years with most commonly available frog species is certainly attainable. Many species of dart frogs can easily live over 20 years in captivity when given proper care – a friend of mine has Dendrobates auratus ‘Nicaraguan Green and Black’ adults that are over 30! Keep in mind the potential longevity of a pet frog before making a purchase – will you be willing and able to properly care for your froggy friend for years to come?
Many species of frogs make fantastic display animals. Poison dart frogs in particular are very brightly colored, active during the day, are fairly bold and will be out and about for all to see, and are generally kept in naturalistic vivaria. Imagine a slice of the jungle in your living room! Live exotic plants, a water feature, and colorful, active frogs will attract attention and make a great focal point in any living space. While most frogs will not tolerate regular handling, there is still plenty of opportunities to enjoy your pet frogs!
Pet animals in general, especially pet frogs, provide excellent educational opportunities. Frogs are fairly common classroom pets for just this reason – my girlfriend has a small vivarium with a trio of Dendrobates tinctorious ‘Azureus’ dart frogs in it, and she uses them to convey ideas and concepts to her biology classes almost daily. Frogs are considered an indicator species – when something is going wrong in the environment, they are some of the first animals to suffer. Pet frogs are great way to introduce the necessity of a clean environment and man’s impact on the planet. Many species of frogs will also readily breed in captivity, providing a great lead-in to a conversation on the birds and the bees, as well as the life cycle of an amphibian and the concept of metamorphosis.
Best of all, pet frogs are generally low maintenance and easy to care for. Unlike dogs, cats, birds, fish, or small mammals, most pet frogs are fine with being fed 3-4 times a week. Frogs don’t produce much waste, and can generally go several weeks between thorough cleanings. A properly set up naturalistic vivarium can go years between substrate changes. Misting can easily be automated, to make care even easier! Frogs will generally be fine if you miss a feeding – no need to find a babysitter for your pet frogs when you go out of town for a few days!
Frogs are considered exotic pets for a good reason! Nothing is much more exotic than a brightly colored frog hopping around in a replica rainforest in your living room! Pet frogs are different, and really are much more enjoyable than many of the typical pets people keep, in my opinion.
Still considering keeping a pet frog? Good for you! Keep doing research – the Josh’s Frogs How-To Guides and Knowledge Base are great places to start. Pet frogs are meant to be enjoyed – make sure all of the frog’s need have been met before you bring it home, and your pet frog will be that much more enjoyable. Once you are ready to make a purchase, consider the wide variety of healthy, captive bred pet frogs offered by Josh’s Frogs. Our animals are bred here, by trained zoologists, so you know you’re getting the best possible quality animal and future companion pet!