Our Frogs are Disappearing, but You Can Help Save Them
Frogs and toads are disappearing from our gardens according to the RSPB’s 2018 survey of over 10,000 gardens across Scotland.
The main cause: A waning popularity of the primary habitat, the garden pond.
It’s not just frogs that are suffering, but toads as well. Both frogs and toads need a close by source of water to survive. A sharp decline in the number of garden ponds is putting these once commonly seen amphibians at risk.
Frog’s Breed in Garden Ponds
Although frogs actually spend around 90% of their time on land, they breed in water, and ponds make the ideal breeding ground. Ponds often have algae in the water and plants around the edge – the perfect environment for the growing tadpoles and froglets
Amphibians, like frogs and toads, also breed in farm ditches, streams, and bog pools. However, these habitats are not reliable because they are in danger of drying up in the Spring before the tadpoles have developed into froglets.
Frogs Need Pollution Free Water
Pesticides too can be a problem, especially in farm ditches. It’s not uncommon for frog eggs to die due to pollution from pesticides.
The female frog will lay at least 2000 eggs and each of these eggs is enclosed in a jelly-like substance. If the water is polluted with chemicals, the eggs may die. Even if the eggs develop into tadpoles, those tadpoles will then digest the jelly. If the jelly is contaminated, the tadpoles may die.
What do Tadpoles Need?
At 2 days old the tadpole has finished digesting the jelly and it will start to eat algae. There needs to be enough algae in the water if the tadpoles are going to survive this stage in their development. At 5 weeks the tadpole has hind legs and it needs to swim to the surface for air. By this time it’s eating plants, as well as algae. By 7 weeks the tadpole is eating both plants and insects.
What do Froglets and Young Frogs Need?
By 14 weeks, the tiny frog, known as a froglet, is spending time sitting on rocks or in damp grass near the pond or water source. They grow quite fast during this stage, usually doubling in size within 6 months.
During these early months, the young frogs need to forage in rough vegetation or long grass surrounding the pond.
Frogs do not reach maturity or start to breed until they are 3 years old and they have a natural life span of around 7-8 years.
Help Frogs by Giving Them a Home
Make a difference by creating a small pond or a simple DIY pool in your garden. Even an old Belfast sink, partly covered with plants in a quiet corner will provide a good habitat.
Frog-friendly ponds don’t need to be big or elaborate. They do need to be leakproof and have enough shade (but not too much shade) for the tadpoles and frogs. Shade can be provided with pond plants.
How Will Frogs Find My Pond?
Frogs are very good at finding water sources and providing they can access your garden, and access the pond, they should find it!
It’s not a good idea to take frogs, spawn, or tadpoles from other water sources and introduce them to your pond. You could be introducing disease or contamination. Or, the stress and change of environment could cause problems. Far better to let the frogs do what frogs are good at, which is finding water!
Do I need to Feed the Frogs or the Tadpoles?
If you set up your pond properly, you shouldn’t need to provide extra food. Plant some pond vegetation in your pond, and the algae needed for tiny tadpoles to survive will form very quickly. Simply providing the right environment is enough and you will be doing your bit to help prevent our frogs from disappearing altogether.