The Common Toad    (Bufo bufo)

Toads can live for up to 40 years. Their main predators are the grass snake and hedgehogs which unlike most predators are not put off by the irritant secreted from toads skin. They are also hunted by Badgers, Brown Rats and many birds including Herons, Corvids, Raptors.



Studies have shown that Common Toads appear to be able to sense the approach of an earthquake and will quickly evacuate an area just days before the attack.




Toads are most active at night and prefer warm damp nights where they will go out in search of insects, slugs and earthworms.



 





 

In February - April, at the first signs of Spring approaching, adult toads begin their migration to the breeding site. This often means having to cross busy roads on their way and many fail to survive the journey. One possible solution is to construct 'toad tunnels' beneath our roads to allow the travelling toads safe passage.







 








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The Common Frog   (Rana temporaria)

The Common Frog is found right across the UK. It is also found right across Europe even into the Arctic Circle.  Living for around 7-8 years the common frog could exist in numbers of up to 8 million in Great Britain but research suggests that this number could be falling.



Building a pond with shallow areas in your garden usually attracts breeding frogs within 2 or 3 years if the conditions are right.




Attracting frogs into your garden by building a pond  is a great way to control the numbers of slugs and snails without the use of harmful pesticides.  Frogs often lay thousands of eggs in their frog-spawn during early Spring.  This vast number of eggs is necessary as only a handful out of every few thousand eggs will mature to adult breeding frogs.




Most adult Common Frogs are between 6-9cm in length. Some can be considerably larger especially the females which are usually bigger than the males.



 

The frogs ability to breath through its skin enables it to hibernate at the bottom of ponds beneath mud and rotting leaves for several months if necessary. The Common frog is mostly terrestrial outside of the mating season and can be found in gardens, woodlands and grassy fields but usually not too far from water.









 

It is widely believed that Common Frogs have the ability to lighten or darken their skin over time in order to match their surroundings. There are claims that Common Frogs also have the ability to change colour as well as shade but to what degree is unproven at the moment.




 

The skin colour of the Common Frog can vary from grey-green-yellow-brown. Occasionally reddish examples like these are found but these seem to be more common in Scotland than the rest of the UK.



 






 






 






 






 






 

These six Common Frogs were all residents of my back garden. This photo shows the variation in colours, shades and shapes that Common Frogs can be found in even on the same site.




This female adult Common Frog shows the classic speckled throat as opposed to the plain pale throat found on the male. She also displays rich red / yellow marbling on her belly, and granulated flanks which are smooth on males. This granulated skin may assist male frogs to secure on embrace during the mating process.




 

An adult male Common Frog.




Young Common Frog

At 17mm in length this Common Frog had only left the pond 3 months ago. Young frogs are usually only around 20mm in length when they hibernate for the first time.







It's important to have over-hanging vegetation around one end of any garden pond to enable froglets and toadlets to climb out of the pond for the first time when they are ready.




This tiny froglet was only 8mm in length and had just left the pond water for the first time. Juvenile frogs may hang around the edge of the pond on floating vegetation for some time before dispersing onto dry land.




Common Frog Tadpole

Tadpoles develop their hind legs first, and then the front legs. When all four limbs are fully developed the tail will start to shrink. Once the tail has almost disappeared the newly developed froglets are ready to leave the pond and begin their terrestrial life.







The first adult female Common Frog to arrive in my newly created garden pond.



 

One of 12 male Common Frogs attempting to mate with just 2 female Common Frogs in my 3 year old garden pond. 

In 2019 the first two weeks of February were very mild and dry with daytime temperatures of 14 - 21 degrees. Once the nighttime temperatures reached 7 degrees the first male Common Frogs started appearing in my pond to accompany the Smooth Newts that started appearing at the end of January. Heavy rain on the 28th February brought the amphibians out in good numbers and on the 1st March I had 8 male frogs, 2 female frogs, one clump of frogspawn and 6 Smooth Newts in the pond. On 2nd March I had 12 - 13 male frogs, 1 - 2 female frogs, at least 2 clumps of frogspawn and 6 Smooth Newts in the pond. By 3rd March the temperatures had dropped and in the blink of an eye all the frogs had left the pond and vanished. 




Another of the 12 male Common Frogs attempting to mate with just 2 female Common Frogs in my 3 year old garden pond.







Adult male Common Frogs






Adult male Common Frog






Adult male Common Frogs






Adult male Common Frogs






Adult male Common Frogs






Adult male Common Frogs






Adult male Common Frog






The sound of male Common Frogs croaking during the breeding season.







Just 17 days later the spawn had developed into a mass of tiny 6mm wriggling tadpoles.

It's interesting to observe that even at this very early stage in the frog's development the tadpoles already exhibit a variety of different colours and shades. At this stage the tadpoles stay with the nutrient-rich jelly of the spawn, from which they are still feeding from.







Click here for:  Amphibians Page 2




 All photos on this page were taken using the Canon 40D Camera and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L  Macro IS USM lens

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