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Love by the pool
Frogs and Toads It still surprises me the number of people that are confused over Frogs and Toads, and their spawn. It’s pretty easy really. The adults are quite different. Frogs are the more shiny ones with clean angles and features, and although the colour can vary, they are usually green. Toads, generally look quite “ blobby “ ,for want of a better expression, are more of a greyish brown colour, and most importantly are covered in warts or large pimples. Both have one thing in common though, they are nocturnal when not in the pond spawning, and hide away during the day beneath rocks, stones and logs etc.
They emerge on damp warm evenings and forage around looking for worms and slugs which they devour in large numbers, and so in our selfish way are a bonus in the garden.
At this time of year both species enter the water in ponds and puddles, to engage in their mating rituals. The male Frogs fight for dominance by issuing their load croaks which are quite deep and gutteral whereas the toad’s call is more squeaky, and higher pitched. The males grab the females and hold on tight until she lays the spawn which expands and draws in water and is quickly fertilised by the male, which is hanging on her back. Sometimes a hapless female will be grabbed by several incensed males at the same time. At this stage they are said to be in “amplexus”. Sadly the females sometimes die due to the advances of amorous males.
By now the frogs have laid their clumps of sago like spawn, but the toads start later –usually by the end of March. Their spawn is very distinctive and is in long single strings which are wrapped around water plants. Which leads us to another difference between the two species. Frogs often use shallow temporary water such as is found in wheel ruts and rain puddles,, whereas toads prefer deeper more permanent water. A few years back there was this craze for putting frogspawn into garden ponds. People didn’t realise that hundreds a little froglets would come back a couple of years later to the pond where they instinctively assumed that their parents had spawned !
Result - knee deep in frogs ! Luckily for us the adults and “taddies” are eaten by quite a few predarors like water beetles, dragon fly larvae, herons, snakes and even buzzards! Good job really !