Frogs and toads in the garden

Posted: Wednesday 27 February 2013
by Richard Jones

Whenever I speak to anyone about frogs or toads, they are always slightly amazed that their pond-free garden should contain them.

Frog - image by Franck Cassedanne

It was only to be expected at this time of year, parent talk in the playground turns to frogs and toads. I haven’t seen any yet — too blistering cold, either for them to be moving or for me to out rootling in the garden — but I have just been shown photos of one on someone’s phone.

Apparently there was initially some debate about whether it was a frog or a toad. It’s definitely a frog, but covered in sandy grit so it doesn’t look as smooth as normal. We get both in the gardens round here, although from memory I’d have to say that frogs outnumber toads 10 to one.

Whenever I speak to anyone about frogs or toads, they are always slightly amazed that their pond-free garden should contain them. But, of course, amphibians only need a pond during the breeding season, to lay their spawn. The rest of the time they are terrestrial animals, completely at home in the shrubbery, log pile or herbaceous border. Their very name — amphibian — is a reflection of this, deriving from the Greek amphi (both, or both sides, as in ambidextrous) and bios (life), meaning that these wonderful creatures are equally happy on both sides of the water/land divide.

Very shortly, pond or no, gardens are more likely to see frogs and toads than ever, because now is the start of the annual migration back to their birth ponds. I’m fairly lucky in that, although my back garden is not ever so large, it is part of a large block of gardens where hedges and fences are tatty enough to allow these beasts fairly easy passage.

We have a pond, and occasionally a frog will be sitting in it. As far as I know they have never bred there. But somewhere else, near at hand, hidden from my view, there must be other small garden ponds, more frog- and toad-friendly ponds, where successful spawning does take place. A good thing too.

Thank you to Franck Cassedanne for kind permission to use his frog image.

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Talkback: Frogs and toads in the garden
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Mrs. Little Bush 11/03/2013 at 11:48

Last year the frogs arrived on the 24th February. This year there were masses of frog spawn, yesterday, 10th March. Nature is so cruel. Today it is all set in ice! Maybe the intensity of light also controls behaviour. I hope I am not to blame. On the 7th I had a huge Eucalyptus severely pruned because it was casting too much shade over the pond and greenhouses. The increase in light was so noticeable. The frogs are so interesting but their numbers have dwindled over the years. At one time I could count thirty or more relaxing in the evening sun on the stones surrounding the pond. One year a bright orange one didn't attract a mate but spent a lot of time stretched over the heaps of spawn as if it was looking after it. I will have to wait and see what happens this year. It looks as if they will have to get amorous again!

Linda Andrew 11/03/2013 at 18:52

I have only toads in my garden,many of them. They go in my polytunnels for the slugs & snails I find them everywhere, under stones, dug in the sandy soil and in various nooks & crannies. I have to be very careful when I am digging the garden. I love my toads.

nutcutlet 11/03/2013 at 18:55

Loads of newts, smooth and great crested, here but rarely see a frog or toad. No frogspawn for years

mozza2 11/03/2013 at 21:56

We took our pond up in 2011 and last year the poor frogs came back and left frogspawn on the soil where the pond was. We felt so guilty.

Richard Jones 12/03/2013 at 10:47

You may not have frogs and toads because you have newts. Newt tadpoles are the most carnivorous of the amphibians. We have frogs and toads about in the garden, but none in the pond because, I believe, the newts eat any spawn ever laid.

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