How to help frogs spawn survive in a pond

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Frogs return to the pond in Spring and leave frog spawn.

Frogs in Spring:

  • Try to travel & return to the pond of their birth.
  • Frogs emerge from hibernation as night temperatures in an area warm to over 5C.
  • Males return to the pond first.
  • Male frogs attract the females to them by croaking.

Frog Mating:

  • They mate in shallow areas of the pond among rafting plant growth.
  • The male attracts a female & will grip her from above with his forelimbs in an embrace called 'amplexus'.
  • The female lays her eggs into the water and the male releases his sperm into the water to fertilize them.
  • The female can be suffocated or drowned during mating.
  • To help her add plenty of shallow shelves & <p>Suitable for shelf depth 13-15cm(5-6”) or waterlogged mud </p> shelf pond plants in baskets for her to sit on for support.
  • Add plants that make rafts of stems across the water surface for support like Myosotis scorpioides, Veronica beccabunga, Mentha aquatica or Rorippa nasturtium aquaticum.
  • The mating can last for days and more than one male can mount one female while she is laying frogs spawn.

Frogs spawn:

  • Each female usually produces one clump of frogs spawn in a season, usually in warm days in March.
  • Over the weeks of spawning many frogs will appear in the water with a mass of movement and frog spawn as a result.
  • Frog spawn is laid on shallow shelf areas as lumps about the size of a tennis ball.
  • Each lump will swell to grapefruit size as it matures and will float to the water surface.
  • They will merge to look like one jelly mat.

Freshwater Habitats Trust (formerly Pond conservation) ask pond owners to take part in the Pondnet Big Spawn Count every year to see how many clumps of spawn appear in your pond so they can see how many breeding females are reported.

The  link to the 2020 Spawn count.

Big Spawn Count results show:

  1. Frogs Spawn laying depends on the outside temperature and can vary by 2-3 weeks.
  2. Up to 5mx5m appears to be the optimum size for the pond water area.
  3. Construct the pond with shelves to produce shelf areas of shallow water.
  4. A pond should be in the sun in Spring.
  5. The average number of clumps of spawn in a 5mx5m pond was 14.
  6. A smaller pond of 1mx1m had, on average, 7 clumps of spawn (or 7 visiting female frogs).
  7. Plant the area around the pond densely to give a habitat for protection and hiding places to get the best numbers of frog visitors and survivors.

Our pond had over 40 frogs in it one year and they made at least 15 balls of spawn which soon merged together as a swollen mass of jelly to protect the eggs.

The juvenile frogs not yet capable of mating (3 years old) may appear in the pond too.

Watch our video 'Frogs in your pond in Spring' to see them spawn.

Frogs spawn survival:

Froglife (the wildlife charity for conservation of amphibians and reptiles) advise that frog spawn is not taken from one pond to another to help control the spread of invasive pond plants and amphibian diseases.

  • The adult female lays several thousand eggs to allow for huge losses - each in a clump of jelly with dark brown-black centres.
  • A clump of frog spawn sits half submerged under the water and half exposed to the air. It is vulnerable to overnight frosts.
  • The spawn closest to the outside of the clump will be killed in a frost. The centre of the clump may survive because it is protected by the outside of the clump.
  • Leave any spawn that dies in the pond to get eaten by other creatures.
  • Dead eggs will have grey or white centres.
  • Very cold weather can interrupt spawning - a second batch of frogspawn may appear in your pond once the cold weather subsides.
  • Don't move spawn from the wild or buy spawn. This can spread frog diseases and viruses or invasive plants.
  • The sale of wild-caught spawn or tadpoles is an offence under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
  • Follow the Froglife campaign #StopSpawnSales.

Around three weeks after spawning the tadpoles hatch out from their eggs.

  • Each tadpole is about 12mm long and brown in colour.
  • They will feed on the old jelly mass and any algae which is growing on it.
  • You can supplement their early food requirements with a vegetable based food - particularly important in a new pond.
  • At first use Early Stage - Tadpole Food.

Frog tadpoles in Summer:

  • Once they start to develop legs, tadpoles change from being vegetarians to carnivors.
  • Most established ponds will have enough food for the tadpoles to develop to maturity but in a new pond or with a large number of tadpoles in your pond supplement later with Late Stage (high protein) Tadpole Food.
  • Up to 90% of the eggs, tadpoles or froglets in a pond are lost to predators in the warm shallow waters at the edge of a pond. These predators include dragonfly larva, water boatmen, snakes or birds.
  • Frogs are a protected species so their spawn or tadpoles should not be removed from their pond.
  • They need as much cover from plant leaf as possible so they have somewhere to hide from these predators.
  • Grow Myosotis species, Veronica beccabunga and in a larger pond area - Mentha aquatica and Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum from the shelf area as cover.
  • Also grow Aponogeton distachyos to cover & protect the tadpoles in areas of deeper water
  • Garden ponds are often home to more than one species of amphibian - see newt and toad pages - this is a healthy situation and shows that the pond is functioning well.
  • Numbers of one species will control another until they balance with each other out.
  • Adult newts can eat frog spawn. Late stage frog tadpoles can eat young newts when the frog tadpoles are in the carnivore stage.

Adult frogs:

Ranavirus - Adult frogs can be affected by Frog red leg disease.

On hot days between June and August at temperatures above 25°C  you can find a large number of dead frogs in a short space of time. The frogs are often thin and lethargic before death.

  • Affected frogs may appear with:
    Drowsiness (lethargy).
    Abnormal wasting (emaciation).
    Redness of the skin (erythema).
    Skin ulcers or sores.
    Bleeding (systemic haemorrhaging), especially from mouth/anus.
    Breakdown of limbs (limb necrosis).
    Eye problems.

Frogs in Winter:

  • Frogs may live in the pond over winter as they can breathe through their skin.
  • Most will leave the water and spend Winter under logs or sheds, in compost heaps or any other damp hiding place they can find.
  • Create wild areas in your garden with log piles.
  • Build an Amphibian House (or Hibernaculum) - use old pallets to start and fill the gaps with twigs, wood, leaves, soil, earth, old tiles and anything else that amphibians can bury into or crawl between.
  • Frogs try to return to the pond of their birth after Winter hibernation to mate.

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