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.

  • Marilyse Boyle:

    23 Feb 2020 12:46:00

    I haven’t had any frog spawn for the past two years and I was wondering why this could be. In previous years I have had both frog and toad spawn. There is a maple tree by the edge of the pond but at this time of the year without its leaves it doesn’t stop the light .

  • Vicki Whitlock:

    03 Mar 2020 11:24:00

    I was out walking my dog yesterday & due to the rain we have had there are big shallow puddles which have lots of frog spawn in them, to give them half a chance should I move them (or as many as I can) thank you

  • Vicki Whitlock:

    03 Mar 2020 11:30:00

    I was out walking my dog yesterday & due to the rain we have had there are big shallow puddles which have lots of frog spawn in them, to give them half a chance should I move them (or as many as I can) thank you

  • Jane:

    04 Mar 2020 19:57:00

    Have put frogspawn in three separate places on 22nd February this year in my Hampshire garden – in a pond without fish, in a wide plastic bucket in a cold greenhouse and in an old metal preserving pan in our chilly north facing conservatory, all with pond water and various pond weed. The pond spawn has already mostly turned white so presumably no longer viable after a few only slightly frosty nights. Spawn in the containers is wriggling and growing encouragingly and I plan to acclimatise them into the pond in a few weeks.

  • Wendy Halsted:

    08 Mar 2020 22:52:00

    7am I found two frogs locked together in mating position amongst leaves of plant in a pot in a sheltered spot by my back door. They’ve remained like this all day. Both look healthy. Could see two pairs of eyes open and closed at different times throughout the day. (I began accessing back garden around side of property so as not to disturb them.)

    It’s only a small garden but I have two small ponds (small sink size) one of which has been very full of frog spawn and, this morning, a few black tadpoles emerging. Why are these two adults away from the pond?

    Also, I observed a sort of shiny pale blue, almost iridescent, patch around/under the chin of the one on top- or was it on the one beneath?

    Be very grateful for any thoughts.

  • Wendy:

    16 Mar 2020 17:08:00

    Hello had my first frog spawn laid last Monday,and nothing seems to have changed ,still look the same apart from some eggs under the water look like got tiny bubbles on them .my pond gets sun in afternoon ,is my spawn ok

  • Lynda Young:

    19 Mar 2020 17:14:00

    I have stones at the lower part of garden ,water there Now but before the frogsborn are fully developed it dries up, so it is best to move the frogs born Now, But WHERE, I live in CREWE ,CHESHIRE ,PLEASE HELP I have about 12 Clumps of frogs-born. ,LYNDA YOUNG

  • Tony Webster:

    22 Mar 2020 14:35:00

    The frog spawn in my pond, recently laid, is not a clear gel its jet black, what is it ?

  • Martin:

    04 Apr 2020 18:56:00

    Our frogspawn arrived on 11th March this year. Like Wendy’s, the spawn today (4th April) has clusters of small green bubbles above it. Any thoughts please.

  • Keith:

    06 Apr 2020 13:08:00

    Should I remove the spawn once the tadpoles have left it, it’s just floating in large masses around the pond

  • 06 Apr 2020 15:52:00

    @Martin and @Wendy frogspawn can take up to a month to hatch depending on environmental conditions, generally developing faster in warmer water with plenty of sunlight. On healthy unhatched spawn, any little bubbles are likely to be oxygen. Once it’s hatched the remaining jelly will rot down and gradually disappear, possibly with tiny bubbles as part of the decomposition process.

  • 06 Apr 2020 15:55:21

    @Tony freshly-laid spawn does look like small black beads, and it only swells up into jelly ‘blobs’ on contact with water.

  • 06 Apr 2020 15:58:40

    @Lynda frogs often lay in shallow, temporary water like this but the risk doesn’t always pay off if the puddle dries too quickly. If you’re worried, just fill a bowl or similar container with rain water (NOT tap water) and move the spawn into the bowl, place it in a sunny position and it should hatch within a month if its viable. Since there won’t be any natural food in the bowl, the easiest way to feed them is boiled spinach or lettuce, and/or goldfish flakes.

  • 06 Apr 2020 16:01:45

    @Wendy Halsted male frogs develop a blue throat during the breeding season, and they sometimes latch onto other males in their eagerness to mate. This might be two confused males but males do sometimes hitch a lift to the pond by intercepting females before they arrive, to avoid competition at the pond. If they are intending to spawn, they will find their way to water eventually.

  • 06 Apr 2020 16:05:53

    @Vicki Whitlock frogs do sometimes spawn in shallow, temporary water like puddles. It’s a risky strategy but sometimes pays of, since spawn develops faster in warm, shallow water. It’s best to leave it as it is out in the ‘wild’ but any found in strange places in gardens can be moved to a pond if you have one or reared in a bowl of rainwater. We don’t advise moving spawn between ponds as there’s a risk of transmitting infectious disease, which can decimate frog populations.

  • 06 Apr 2020 16:09:34

    @Marilyse Boyle it’s tricky to say for certain why frogs fail to spawn in some years as there are so many factors that can influence this. Frog populations do fluctuate naturally over time but we’ve had a few bouts of extreme weather in the past couple of years (ice and snow in spring, heatwaves in summer) which could have reduced numbers. The best thing to do is create and maintain plenty of frog-friendly habitat to encourage them back, and most populations do recover.

  • Debbie Reid:

    07 Apr 2020 07:28:00

    Hi. I have about 3 lots of frogspawn at various stages of development in my pond, as I have had for many years now. One particular “clump” though, seems to be orange in colour. Could you tell what this might be, please.
    Regards, Debbie

  • Sarah:

    07 Apr 2020 15:26:00

    I have a clump of frog spawn in my large Koi pond. My Koi are 2 ft in length. Should I risk moving the spawn to a shallow pond water filled basin, allowing them to be able to get out so my Koi do not eat them? Also, if I move them, should I place in highly sunny spot or shady/sun as they are in the pond at the moment? Thank you.

  • 08 Apr 2020 07:59:35

    @DebbieReid tricky to say for certain but abnormalities tend to mean the spawn is not viable for some reason, or perhaps it has been affected by some sort of fungal growth – although this is usually white. Keep an eye on it and see what happens.

  • 08 Apr 2020 08:02:21

    @Sarah yes, fish will make short work of frogspawn and tadpoles so they will have a much better chance in a separate bowl, filled with pond water and pond weed. Spawn develops best in warm, shallow water with plenty of sunlight, so a sunny position is best – as long as they will not get too hot, Partial shade is fine. You can feed tadpoles boiled spinach/lettuce and fish flakes.

  • 08 Apr 2020 08:07:35

    @Keith there’s usually no need to remove spawn once tadpoles have hatched, they tend to eat the jelly, but you might want to hook out any that has died off or is looking very murky, especially if it’s a small pond. You can tell when it’s dead because it starts to break down, go cloudy, or get smelly. There might also still be some late spawn still developing, so take care not to accidentally remove healthy unhatched spawn.

  • Ruth Greening:

    08 Apr 2020 12:58:00

    No frogspawn now for a couple of years. Does too much algae inhibit spawn production?

  • Raymond Scott:

    19 Apr 2020 14:58:00

    Put some of my annual frogspawn in a largish plastic container and enjoyed watching loads of them on to of a brick under the water. Some died so put remainder into pond; Should be safe from fish, as have a shallow area. Do they keep in the mud on the bottom as I cannot see an y sign of them after hours of watching?

  • Emilia Struckman:

    21 Apr 2020 09:51:00

    is frogspawn a consumer or a producer??

  • Olwen:

    22 Apr 2020 10:06:00

    I’m a carer and have just found a frog in my client’s watering can along with its spawn. I have a pond which I made last year, it slopes down and has oxygenated plants in it”. I’ve put them in my pond, it’s not a big pond and the frog is happily exploring the pond. The spawn it in the deep end of the pond, will it be ok there or do I need to move it to the shallow end. Will I need to feed the frog

  • 23 Apr 2020 08:33:45

    @Ruth algae is not generally an issue but ‘too much’ is a relative term so it’s hard to say for certain. If you’re seeing frogs but no spawn, there might be too few females; it might have been predated (especially if there are fish in the pond) or it might have sunk if there is no vegetation to support it. Frogspawn develops best in warm, shallow water with plenty of direct sunlight.

  • 23 Apr 2020 08:36:24

    @Raymond Freshly hatched tadpoles usually cluster on pond weed or similar for the first few days, so they were probably using the brick for that purpose. Then they get more active and can be seen swimming, usually close to the surface as they prefer shallow, warm water, and will latch onto pond weed to feed.

  • 23 Apr 2020 08:38:44

    @Olwen Frogs are quite terrestrial outside the breeding season so this one should be able to move freely within the pond and into the garden to find plenty of natural food. If the spawn is floating nicely on top of weed in the deep end it will be fine, if not the shallow end might be better – it doesn’t develop well if it sinks to the bottom.

  • Tim Watson:

    24 Apr 2020 16:31:00

    We have a large natural pond and have had masses of frog spawn every year for at least the last 17 years. This year we have had none at all, and have actually seen very few frogs around in the last couple of months compared to normal. Last year was a particularly dry year and the pond dried out killing probably thousands of tadpoles which was awful to see happen, I presume this has something to do with it. Will the situation ever recover?

  • Robert Powell:

    28 Apr 2020 20:57:00

    We have a pool with frogs. In previous years over a dozen hibernated over winter This year not as many. Just as we thought there wouldn’t be any spawn we got some around April 8th. It has already developed into tiny tadpoles and lefr the jelly. Let’s hope they continue to develop. Are small water snails a pest to tadpole development?

  • 30 Apr 2020 13:25:00

    @Tim It’s great to hear your pond has been so well used over the past 17 years. Fog populations can fluctuate quite significantly from year to year, and one dry season can have a big knock-on effect. Frog populations do usually bounce back, so as long as there is still plenty of good habitat you should see more in future years. It takes young frogs 2 years to mature, so sometimes there is a bit of a lag.

  • 30 Apr 2020 13:28:31

    @Robert Great to hear you did get some spawn, sometimes they are just a bit later than usual. They should be absolutely fine, water snails won’t bother the tadpoles.

  • Michelle:

    20 Jun 2020 18:33:00

    Hello, we have a wildlife pond, no fish and the same as last year we had lots of frog and toadspawn, and lots of tadpoles. This was around mid March when they hatched. It took a long time for them to get back legs then they all disappeared over a very short period of time. Last year we had loads of baby frogs leaving and around the pond. This year nothing. Also newt numbers seem to have decreased too. Has the early heat wave caused a problem? The children were so disappointed they all vanished. Very recently (early June) I found three dead baby frogs floating in the pond. Any ideas what caused this and how we can prevent next year?

    This might be due to the weather. Amphibians dry out easily during hot weather and need to stay in the shade and shelter provided by long grass and other plants, stones, logs and slabs. It’s most likely the baby frogs did leave the pond but headed straight for cover and are keeping well hidden. With the ground being so dry, they might also struggle to find enough to eat. They are also very vulnerable to predation at all stages of their life, and baby frogs make a tasty snack for hungry birds and a wide range of other wildlife. Odds are very few will survive, which is why female frogs lay such an abundance of eggs. The best thing to do is create plenty of frog-friendly habitat throughout the garden so they have lots of safe, damp places to shelter. Charlotte
  • John Green:

    25 Jun 2020 19:25:00

    Moved to a house in December 2019. The garden has a pond, this is the first pond we have had.
    W had frogspawn in the spring and tadpoles, mostly eaten by blackbirds and newts.
    Now on 25th June we have what looks like more frogspawn, what is this likely to be?

  • Angela:

    21 Oct 2020 15:48:00

    Should we be seeing baby frogs at this time of the year. Just seen one in my greenhouse where my tomato bag is

    Yes there will be juveniles around, so it’s normal to see small frogs in the garden at this time of year. It takes them several years to reach maturity. They’ll soon be looking for somewhere sheltered to spend the winter. Charlotte
  • Peter Cow:

    14 Feb 2021 18:53:00

    I live in Devon, but found this thread wondering about the frogspawn we found in our pond. Its been there for a few days already, in the cold weather, though we haven’t had much snow here. Seems like its a really early spawn! Its up on the side of the pond now as the pond leaks and gets very low when it doesn’t rain. Is frogspawn ok on dry land next to a pond? Its on the south facing side, so it’ll get some extra heat from that, if it doesn't get eaten by the occasional duck visitors first. Should we move some of it into the watery part of the pond, or leave it on the bank amongst the grasses there. Theres loads of it!

    No, it won’t survive out of water unless in a very wet and boggy area, so yes – move it back into the pond. It’s not unusual for frogs to spawn as early as January, it all depends on the weather. Charlotte
  • Jacky:

    21 Feb 2021 19:31:00

    We had our first frogspawn, this year on Monday 15th, a little later than last year. The first lot was laid on the surface, as normal but since then another 6 clumps have appeared but they are underwater at the bottom of our wildlife pond. Will they survive, should we try & raise to the surface?
    The pond is probably about 15” deep where they are. (We cleaned it out quite vigorously, this winter as it was getting a lot of mud & slime at the bottom but this means there is less weed & vegetation.)

    Hi Jacky. Our advice is to leave them be.
  • Jo:

    24 Feb 2021 16:42:00

    Hi,

    Can I please ask, does frogspawn need still water? We have a lot of frog activity and newts but, as yet, no spawn.

    Thank you.

    Frogs prefer still water in lakes and ponds to lay their spawn compared to flowing water in rivers. It is still early in the season, so if frogs are around, there is a good chance you will get some spawn
  • Brian:

    02 Mar 2021 15:21:00

    My pond has two large clusters of frog spawn but two weeks ago the pond froze over and remained so for 4/5 days. Has that killed the spawn?

    Answer: Frog spawn can survive some frost, and often only the outer layer of spawn is damaged, but longer spells of cold can kill spawn. Dead eggs will have grey or white centres. Sometimes after cold spells, frogs a second batch of spawn may appear
  • James Robinson:

    02 Mar 2021 15:29:00

    Hi, I have had a lot of frogs in my pond over the past couple of weeks showing signs of mating activity, however, they have now all gone without spawning apart from one clump in the top pool of my waterfall. (the waterfall is not working) This has never happened before,as every year I have loads of frogs and spawn at this time of the year,can you plase tell me what might be the problem thankyou.

  • Jody:

    06 Mar 2021 16:18:00

    I’ve recently moved into a house when the pond has been filled in. This morning I have found lots of frog spawn around and on top of the stones. What should I do?

    Answer: Hi Jody, the best option would be to move the frogspawn into a spare bucket, old washing up bowl or similar container, along with some rainwater (if not available tap water will do). An area of long grass, log pile, compost heap or dense vegetation will be perfect for her. The frogspawn may or may not have been fertilised. Frogspawn develops best in warm, shallow water so if you have a nice sunny spot for it, you'll be able to give it the best chance.
  • Karen Heath:

    13 Mar 2021 15:16:00

    I’ve got home today t find what I think is frog spawn all over my picnic bench which is only a couple of feet from a river. Would a frog leave its spawn in a dry place in full view of woodland predator? Also It looked quite strange with what I can only describe as intestine in it. I’ve seen frog spawn many times before but never like this.

    Answer: This is the remains of a predated frog, a predator will usually leave or regurgitate the unfertilised eggs/reproductive system
  • Andi:

    14 Mar 2021 10:12:00

    Hi, I’ve just seen the first clump of spawn appear but it does not touch the surface. Is this a problem? The spawn is 10cm down from the surface. I should intervene to move it up somehow? My understanding was that they need to be at the surface for oxygen circulation (but that may Yr 7 science speaking).

    Answer: Frogspawn does sink when first laid, until the eggs swell up with water and float towards the surface. There will still be plenty of oxygen in the water for the frogsapwn that's below the surface.
  • carol:

    14 Mar 2021 13:32:00

    Hi. Is it OK to separate/divide a large clump of spawn?
    We have two established wild life ponds – no fish – but spawn in only one of them this year… foxes obtained access to one of the ponds and probably ate the spawn. Isn’t nature wonderful !!

    Answer: It's probably best to leave it where it is, the frogs know best!