Frog

Common frog, Grass frog, Rana temporaria

 

Frogs have always fascinated me and I love to see them in my pond, they are a good sign of a healthy garden.

Frogs are widespread throughout our country. In spring, they are busy mating in the ponds and producing frog spawn. Frog spawn is seen in a clump and toad spawn is in a long line like a piece of rope.

Only five frogs per two thousand will survive in the wild so please leave the spawn alone, these critters are battling against the odds as it is. Far too many creatures find tadpoles a tasty morsel like fish, birds, newts, water shrews, water beetles and insects, so by having frogs in your garden, you’re attracting all of them.

They are wary of humans. An injured frog should be placed in a box with damp leaves or newspaper and brought to your nearest Vet or Wildlife Rescue Centre. They are creatures of habit and return to the pond they were born in to mate, so if you do happen to see them crossing the road to get to their pond, give them a helping hand.

Frogs eat ants and are a much better method than using ant powder that will seep into the water table. 

They love the warmth and dampness of greenhouses and can keep the pesky insects away. During winter, frogs can lie dormant in ponds.

Frogs can also be strimmed so please be careful. They can get caught in small garden mesh so please make sure any mesh you use is 4cm squared - or larger - for your veggies.

Yes, it's a red frog with blue eyes! This frog was recently caught by my son - being a Manchester United Supporter - he was really excited because the frog was red. These are sometimes found in Scotland along with black ones. 

We have called him Fletcher - after Darren Fletcher. 

Why not check out your own ponds and send us any unusual coloured frogs for our website. Remember, send us the photo...not the frog please!

The common frog can breathe through its skin; this enables them to hibernate for several months beneath piles of mud and decaying leaves underwater.

In the wild, the common frog can live for up to 8 years.

They can be anywhere between 6 and 10cm long, although they are usually around 7.5 to 8cm. They have an average weight of 22.7 grams and females are usually slightly larger than males.

Frogs have a robust body and relatively short hind limbs with webbed toes. Males tend to be slightly smaller and darker than females and can also be distinguished by the dark blue/black nuptial pads (swellings) on their first fingers. These pads become more pronounced during the breeding season, helping males to grip onto females during mating. The frogs’ smooth skin varies in colour from grey, olive green and yellow to various shades of brown and is covered with irregular dark blotches. Common frogs have a dark ‘mask’ enclosing their eyes and eardrums, and often have barred markings on their limbs and flanks. Their undersides are white or yellow - sometimes orange in females - and are often covered with brown or orange speckles. Completely red or black individuals are occasionally found in Scotland, and some may turn blue during the breeding season. Albino common frogs have been found with yellow skin and red eyes. These frogs also have the ability to lighten or darken their skin to match their environment. They have brown eyes with black horizontal pupils, and transparent inner eyelids that protect their eyes while underwater.

Common frogs are largely terrestrial outside the breeding season, and can be found in meadows, gardens and woodland. They breed in puddles, ponds, lakes and canals but prefer areas of shallow water.

Common frogs do not feed at all during the breeding season - but when they are active, they will feed on any moving invertebrates of a suitable size, such as insects, snails, slugs and worms, which they catch with their long, sticky tongues. Adult frogs feed entirely on land, whereas younger frogs will also feed in the water. Tadpoles are herbivorous and feed on algae but become carnivores when they mature into adult frogs.

Although common frogs are active both day and night, they tend to be more active during the night. During the winter they hibernate in compost heaps, under stones and logs, or underwater beneath piles of mud and decaying leaves.

Common frogs become sexually mature at around three years old. During February and March they begin to emerge from hibernation and make their way to the breeding grounds. They have been seen to return annually to the sites where they originally developed from spawn. The males arrive first and attempt to attract a mate by producing a low purring croak. A successful male will wrap his forelimbs around the female in a mating embrace known as 'amplexus'. Each female lays 1000-4000 eggs at a time, which are fertilized by the male as they are released. Frogs can spawn as early as December and as late as April, depending on how warm the weather is.

They prefer to lay their eggs in shallow, still water. Frog spawn is surrounded with a clear jelly-like substance, which swells up in the water to protect the fragile embryos. The spawn floats to the surface in large round clumps so that the sun can warm them. After 30 - 40 days, tadpoles begin to emerge from the jelly-like spawn. These tadpoles feed on the spawn for the first few days until they begin to eat algae. Tadpoles change into frogs through a process called ‘metamorphosis’, which takes between 12 and 14 weeks. Both spawn and tadpoles are extremely vulnerable, and many get eaten by predators such as fish, birds and grass snakes.

When tadpoles hatch they have gills that allow them to breathe underwater. After 9 weeks, they then lose their gills and develop lungs, and therefore swim to the surface to breathe. As they grow, tadpoles begin to feed on insects as well as plants. Hind legs develop between 6 - 9 weeks, and front legs are fully developed after around 11 weeks. The tail begins to be absorbed by the developing tadpole, and by 12 weeks it has practically disappeared, leaving a tiny froglet. At this stage the tadpoles are less dependent on water and will hide in long grass in and around the pond.

The common frog is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside act 1981. 

Voice: Males emit a low purring croak during the breeding season, this can only be heard up to 50 meters away because common frogs do not have any vocal sacs.

Notes: They can breathe through their skin as well as their lungs. Their eyes and nostrils are on the top of their heads so they can see and breathe even when most of their body is underwater.

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