Your top five frog spawn questions answered

02 March 2021 | Posted in Wildlife Garden , Charlotte Owen
Your top five frog spawn questions answered
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

  • Patricia Joan:

    04 Mar 2021 11:53:00

    Hi, I have lots of spawn but some of it has been laid so that half of it is sticking out of the water ( around the base of some yellow flags). Last year when this happened it got frozen. should I try and move it so it sits below the waterline?

    Answer: Frogspawn does best in shallow water and frogs usually choose an appropriate spot - it should be fine. Frost is a hazard, and any spawn above the surface that gets frozen is likely to be killed, so if freezing temperatures are forecast you could try covering the pond or temporarily moving the spawn to a bucket of pondwater somewhere sheltered overnight

  • Janet Chart:

    04 Mar 2021 12:53:00

    Could you tell me more about the facts of life – from a frog’s point of view of course! I’ve noticed the male climbs on the back of the female and then they appear to submerge so do they ‘lay’ the spawn at the bottom of the pond? If so how long before it rises to the surface? The frogs have all been in the pond this week, how long will this mating frenzy last? If frogs go back to the pond where they were spawned how did my pond get frogs the first year? Sorry for so many questions! Regards Jan

    Answer: Yes, the males sit on top of the females and grasp them tightly in a strong grip known as amplexus. They may stay like this for quite some time, fending off the attention of rival males with bouts of aggressive kicking. Sometimes the pair does end up underwater. Freshly-laid spawn looks like dark beads and initially sinks, rising to the surface as a special coating absorbs water and forms the jelly spheres. Males often arrive at the pond first and there may be frogs and spawning activity over several days or even weeks. Some individuals may disperse to new breeding ponds if competition is intense at their ancestral pond, or they stumble across a new pond on their migration.

  • Carol Mansfield:

    04 Mar 2021 13:22:00

    I have no frogs as of yet when will they turn up. I normally have quite a few but last year I had know females and so spawn will they return

    Answer: Their arrival can be quite variable depending on the weather and other factors. If there was no successful spawn last year, numbers may be lower than usual but there's still time for them to arrive, so do keep an eye out.

  • Lindy hindle:

    04 Mar 2021 13:40:00

    I have 2 wildlife ponds situated close to a schools environmental garden with a pond which is usually teeming with frogs spawning around this time of the year . Not this year for some reason we are in north Derbyshire am I too early and quick with my disappointment love frogs and quite obsessed with them. Just want to have frogs spawn inn my own garden

    Answer: They might just be a bit late this year, there are lots of factors that can affect survival and arrival for spawning. As long as the habitat is there for them, they will come - fingers crossed!

  • Ayten Emin:

    04 Mar 2021 13:44:00

    Interesting – never occurred to me that frog and toad spawn would be so different!

  • Lizzie:

    04 Mar 2021 14:47:00

    How do I attract frogs to my pond?

    Answer: Frogs like shallow water with plenty of sunshine, which provides the ideal warmth for spawn to develop. Plenty of vegetation in the pond to provide food and cover for tadpoles, and plants around the edges to provide shelter from predators and the sun when froglets emerge, and for adults to shelter and forage in. Outside of the breeding season, frogs (and all amphibians) also need plenty of shelter on land and will eventually need a safe spot to see out the winter. Log piles, long grass, messy hedges and other terrestrial features are also needed for them to survive year-round.

  • Sussex Wildlife Trust:

    04 Mar 2021 14:58:43

    @Lizzie – Frogs like plenty of pond weed and plants in and around the pond to provide shelter from predators and shade from the sun. They like shallow water to spawn in but deeper water to overwinter (60 cm deep is ideal). They also love long grass, log piles and compost heaps to shelter in overwinter. Please don’t be tempted to move spawn from other ponds as this can spread disease

  • Trevor Henson:

    04 Mar 2021 15:01:00

    Hi
    Do gold fish eat tadpoles or frog spawn

    Answer: yes, Goldfish will eat tadpoles. If your pond is large enough you may be able to add a barrier to separate them until tadpoles mature, if pond small you can add stones in shallow water for tadpoles to hide amongst
  • Janet:

    04 Mar 2021 15:19:00

    Oh dear.. I think our pond may have too much floating (plant) leaves, not fallen tree leaves on top. whenever I try and reduce the amount I always find a little critter of some sort, feel bad, put it back and end up leaving the plant in the pond. There was a very smart frog eyeing me with weed on his head yesterday, but we have never had any spawn as yet. Pond is about 3-4 years old. we were stunned at how much wildlife was drawn to it even in it’s very first year. Wonderful…

    Answer: Frogs do like shallow water and often spawn on top of dense pondweed and other vegetation. If you want to thin out any pond plants this is best done in the autumn, when amphibians have left and pond life is generally quieter. The general rule of thumb is to reduce by about 1/3 in volume. Leave anything you remove on the side of the pond for a day or so to let any small creatures crawl out and find their way back to water.

  • Margaret Bishop:

    04 Mar 2021 15:52:00

    Last year our frogspawn took a long time to develop and grew slowly and the tadpoles seemed smaller in our new pond. Shoul we feed them? If so, what with?

    Answer: Is your pond in a shady position? Frog spawn needs a lot of light and a lot of warmth to develop properly, so shady ponds are not good for spawn and it may take longer to develop
  • Ali:

    04 Mar 2021 16:36:00

    This year’s first frog spawn has appeared in our small wildlife pond. There are big clumps in raised mounds… I’m worried that the cold nights coming up will damage it. Is there any way of protecting the spawn from frost?

    Answer: Frogspawn can usually cope with a bit of cold weather, if a pond freezes, often the top layer of spawn closest to the surface will freeze but below the surface it will survive.
  • James Fisher:

    04 Mar 2021 17:53:00

    Sadly, for several years now, our frogspawn, or rather the tadpoles, have been totally wiped out by the dragonfly larvae. It never used to be a problem and wish I knew how to remedy it. I do admit to killing off many dragonfly larvae but, of course, we shouldn’t really interfere. Any suggestions?

    Answer: please don't kill dragonfly larvae, a thriving dragonfly pond is a real wildlife treasure. Tadpoles do provide valuable food for dragonfly larvae as well as a huge range of other natural predators, so mortality is naturally high. If you want to give the frogs a boost, try rearing a small amount of the total spawn separately, in a bucket or tank of pond water.

  • Toni:

    04 Mar 2021 18:03:00

    We are wondering why we haven’t got any frogspawn in either pond. We saw frogs last Autumn and were expecting to see spawn in Spring. Is it too late or can we still hope?

    Answer: It is still early March, so spawning will still be occurring
  • Keith Forshaw:

    04 Mar 2021 20:33:00

    I have found that my 25+ fish will devour 99% of my tadpoles so for last 10 years I have moved 20% of the spawn to a large dustbin filled with rainwater.
    When the tadpoles appear I wait for them to develope legs before putting them back into the pond to develope to fully before they find their permanent habitats around my garden.
    If I did not carry out this action I fear I would have far far fewer survivors.

    Answer: Fish are voracious predators of tadpoles and other pond life, so we don't recommend adding them to a wildlife pond. It's definitely worth rearing the spawn separately if there are a large number of fish in the pond.
  • Richard Bushell:

    04 Mar 2021 21:12:00

    I dug a pond last year, put some plants in ; we found a frog in some leaves by the house, put it in the pond no sign since, now we have frogspawn (two lots) in the pond!

    Answer: They often do find a new pond surprisingly quickly - build it and they will come!
  • Chris:

    05 Mar 2021 00:48:00

    Frogs are attracted to ponds by the smell of a particular type of algae, which is why it’s important to site ponds in fairly sunny positions if you want to encourage them.
    Toads will always attempt to return to the pond they originated from, & will undertake quite long migrations to do this.
    We have six ponds & are fortunate to have frogs, toads & smoth & palmate newts all breeding in our garden..

  • 05 Mar 2021 08:00:00

    I think I’m breaking the rules! We put a pond in a very shady corner of our garden (it gets no sun at all) about twelve years ago. Frogs showed up very soon after and now we have both newts and frogs. There is quite a large woodpile next to the pond – is there anything else I can do to encourage them?

    Answer: Frogs like plenty of pond weed & plants in & around the pond for shelter from predators & shade from the sun. They like shallow water to spawn in but deeper water to overwinter (60 cm deep is ideal). They also love long grass, log piles & compost heaps to shelter in overwinter - so sounds like you are doing pretty well already
  • barbara roberts:

    05 Mar 2021 11:55:00

    should i cover up the frogspawn when it gets cold over night to stop them dying

    Answer: Spawn needs light and warmth to thrive, so no need to cover. Even in a hard frost, only the top, outer layer of spawn would be damaged.
  • Ali:

    05 Mar 2021 18:05:00

    This year’s first frog spawn has appeared in our small wildlife pond. There are big clumps in raised mounds… I’m worried that the cold nights coming up will damage it. Is there any way of protecting the spawn from frost?

    Answer: If freezing temperatures are forecast you can either cover the pond or temporarily move the spawn into a bucket of pond water somewhere sheltered (e.g. a shed) overnight
  • Janet Sharples:

    06 Mar 2021 17:29:00

    We have just returned from a walk on Ashdown and spotted huge clumps of frog spawn in a large muddy puddle! Is this usual? Plus there was some frog spawn on a nearby moss-covered fallen tree. I should imagine that if there is no rain and it is in a wood and is fairly exposed the chances of survival are very slender? And I wonder how it came to be there – it was adjacent to a river.

    Answer: Frogs prefer shallow water and often spawn in puddles. It's risky but they do so in the hope that the spawn will develop fast enough for the froglets to emerge before the puddle dries out. Frogspawn out of water, unless in a very wet area, is unlikely to survive. Sometimes spawn is left behind after a female frog has been predated
  • Briony Cooke:

    26 Mar 2021 18:35:21

    I monitor the spawning season every year in my pond. There were several males who lurked in the pond during the winter. By mid February they were starting to find partners and by mid March there were 3 couples and around 4 spare males. Normally they get very excited and leap around croaking once the spawning starts. They have never been this late. Do you think these fat females really will lay?

  • Jennie Hatton:

    20 Apr 2021 19:14:00

    Hi there, something has gone wrong with my frog spawn, it was at the bottom of the pond and the jelly looked really dirty. There was a bit of movement but now it looks like everything has died. I live in Co Durham. My mum lives in South Yorkshire and the same thing happen to her last year and this year. Her hairdresser lives in Lincolnshire and the same thing has happened to her pond. What is going on? We are all worried we get the future frogs we should have

  • Kate:

    25 Apr 2021 10:09:00

    Very valuable and interesting qu
    Questions and answers, many thanks

  • Jane Milner:

    07 Jun 2021 15:34:00

    On 6th June 2021 I found a broiling mass of tadpoles in a still brook. I spotted a small number over the last two weekends in the same brook but I have never seen so many in all my 60 years. We are in east sussex a fairly mild climate
    Are they late this year due to cold and frosts?

    It’s pretty normal to see tadpoles at this time of year. Spawning and spawn survival is heavily influenced by weather so exact timings do vary each year. Charlotte Owen, WildCall Officer
  • Delaine Lowry:

    02 Aug 2021 13:42:00

    With torrential rain, a large ice cooler on our porch was filled with rain and then tadpole eggs. There are about 1,000 tadpoles and they are 3 weeks old. The water has gone down a lot and I have filled it with rain water and distilled water several times. I feed them mainly romaine lettuce and spinach. The water is very green but I know of no way to clean it. We live in the Florida Keys. There are larger tadpoles and smaller ones now. I keep the cover on the cooler during the day because of the extreme hot temperature. At night, I leave it off. They eat a lot of food. I’m hoping that they all live as we have a lot of bugs for them to eat.

  • Ria:

    13 Aug 2021 17:01:00

    I have frog spawn in my pond.
    It’s August is this right?
    Thank you.

    ANSWER: Frogs can spawn in the summer, although it is much more common in the Spring
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