Your frogspawn questions answered

Your frogspawn questions answered
frog spawn / Derek Middleton

By Charlotte Owen

WildCall Officer

Every year, WildCall gets lots of phone calls from people worried about the frog spawn and tadpoles in their ponds. Here are your top five spawn questions:

1. What type of spawn do I have?

Frog spawn is always laid in big clumps whilst toad spawn comes in long chains like a string of pearls draped over pond weed and submerged plants.

2. I'm worried that I've got too much frog spawn in my pond.

As long as you haven't introduced additional frogs into your pond, there is no such thing as too much frog spawn. Unfortunately it's a tough life for a tadpole, they have a number of natural predators and are susceptible to various amphibian diseases. Female frogs lay thousands of egg each year with the expectation that only a tiny fraction will survive to adulthood.

3. My spawn hasn't developed properly.

This can be a tricky one. There are lots of factors that affect whether spawn develops: it may be to do with the frogs, it may be to do with the pond. The most common cause of spawn failure is lack of light and late frosts. Frog spawn needs a lot of light and a lot of warmth to develop properly, so shady ponds are not good for spawn.

4. Should I move the spawn into a separate pond?

I never recommend moving spawn or tadpoles between ponds as this can spread non-native plant species and amphibian diseases. Ponds 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.

5. I've got lots of newts but no frogs. Why?

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. However, the decrease in frogs can lead to fewer newts, leading to more frogs in following years and so on. It may be that your pond is just more suitable for newts rather than frogs. This isn't a bad thing, newt habitat is just as valuable as frog habitat.

Find out more about frogs and toads

Still not sure? WildCall is here to help! Ask a question by phoning WildCall on 01273 494777 (9.30 am to 1 pm weekdays) or use our contact form.


Comments

  • David Rowe:

    28 Feb 2019 12:22:00

    I expected my frogspawn to be earlier than ever, with the record-breaking temperatures this year, but it appeared on 23rd February, and from my records, that’s within the normal range. I’ve had 19th February (2014) through to 12th March (2016).

  • Michael Searle:

    28 Feb 2019 14:10:00

    I have a established pond but so far this year have no frogspawn never been this late before I’m wondering if the foxes have eaten all the frogs this year!

  • sue wellfare:

    28 Feb 2019 14:33:00

    I’ve already had 2 lots of frogspawn laid in my pond, and I can hear them most nights too, so expecting more…..however, we also have a lot of fish…. no doubt the fish will eat the spawn, would I be better to remove some into suitable container(large bowl etc) to preserve the tadpoles?

  • Laura Marrinan:

    28 Feb 2019 14:35:00

    I have frogs gathering but no spawn yet, hopefully soon. Last year I put some frog spawn in a separate bowl alongside the pond to stop the newts eating it. Then I could watch the froglets develop. But a few didn’t. Is it a good idea to do this?

  • 28 Feb 2019 15:25:39

    @Laura and @Sue: Putting some spawn in a container to avoid predators is ok, as long as they are returned to the same pond (not moved to another site) when larger. We would recommend a container about 18 inches, as long as it will hold water for the next few months, like an old washing up bowl or paddling pool would be fine. It would be a good idea to add some native pond plants into the tub pond as this will provide food and keep the oxygen level of the water up. Unfortunately when the tadpoles change into froglets the froglet will drown if they can’t get out of the water, so you will also need to add a ramp so that wildlife can get in and out.

  • Hilary Hyde_Smith:

    28 Feb 2019 17:38:00

    For the last few years I have had frogs in my small round pond. yesterday I counted 14 but there has been no sign of any frogspawn in all that time except once about 5 years ago. What is going on? I would appreciate your thoughts. Many thanks.

  • Bellona Bond:

    01 Mar 2019 09:18:00

    My pond seems to be drying. Should I top up with tap water? Also it looks rather scummy with green stuff.

  • Ann:

    01 Mar 2019 11:45:00

    Why at the end of summer do i still have tadpoles that have not turned at all. Thank you

  • Alice:

    02 Mar 2019 15:22:00

    To Bellona Bond – I never add tap water, as I have been told that it encourages algae – blanket weed etc. Rain water only – I catch it from the roof.

  • 03 Mar 2019 10:09:08

    @Bellona Bond: Ideally use rainwater from a butt as tap water is rich in nutrients that causes algae to grow. If you have to use tapwater, leave it standing in a bucket for a couple of days before adding to pond.

  • 04 Mar 2019 13:02:01

    @Hilary Hyde_Smith: Difficult to say for certain – are there fish in the pond? They will eat frogspawn, as will a wide range of predators. There may be issues with the pond (e.g. too shady or too deep) that could mean that spawn fails to develop. It may sink to the bottom and then fail to thrive. There may also be more male frogs than females. If there are now 14 frogs in the pond, hopefully you may have spawn soon.

  • 04 Mar 2019 13:03:13

    @ Ann: Tadpoles sometimes overwinter in the pond and complete their transformation the following spring – if they survive. This tends to happen if the pond is particularly crowded or if the water is cold, leading to slower development. It may also be a deliberate strategy in some cases, as tadpoles that overwinter can emerge in spring and spend longer feeding and growing before the onset of winter. On very rare occasions, tadpoles never develop into adult frogs due to a genetic mutation – it’s nothing to worry about though, it’s completely natural and the tadpoles may live happily in the pond for several years.

  • Elin:

    06 Mar 2019 19:11:00

    We’ve found some spawn on our driveway! Will it be ok? Would it be ok to put in a bowl of water for our boys to see the developments?

  • Lorraine:

    10 Mar 2019 19:45:00

    I have just moved into a rented house with a unkempt garden, down the bottom of it is what I can only describe as, a homemade pond, hole in the ground with black polythene and some rocks around, it looks and smells stagnant, but today I saw some frog spawn in there, will it be ok, smells like rotten eggs.

  • stuart foster:

    28 Sep 2019 16:57:00

    Recently, 24/09/19, a friend noticed masses of young frogs less than an inch in size in some long grass by her house. She has a small pond where each year frogs spawn successfully and repopulate the surrounding area. She has never had such a late show of youngsters and wonders if this is unique to here (Atlantic coastal County Mayo) or other areas are experiencing the same.

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