Toads and frogs
Frog in a pond
Toad You So
Fed up with slugs and snails eating your plants? Worried about the damage to the environment being done by slug pellets? Then you need the expert help of the common toad and frog. But how can you attract and keep frogs and toads in the garden? Easy. These amphibians have 4 basic needs, food, shelter, moisture and somewhere to breed. So this is easy as we all know frogs and toads live in ponds, so put in a pond and we have done it. Well, no, they breed in ponds but live most of the time on land. Frogs especially need a moist environment, as they drink through their skin, and both frogs and toads need cover from the sun. Toads don’t live in ponds, they only breed there.
Making a pond attractive
What to Do?
When setting up a new pond, or adapting an old one, remember ponds need to be accessible, so one edge of the pond needs to be level to the ground gradually getting deeper. The edges need to have flat stones for shelter and broad leaves for shade. I have found that the foliage of the Bleeding hearts offer shade in the spring. Hostas attract the slugs and offer shade in the summer and Sedum in the autumn. Pond plants can also be planted adding to the esthetic look and of course accessibility for the toads and frogs. If your pond is big enough may I recommend water lily. I know it’s a bit clichéd but seeing a little frog sitting on a lily pad is a joy to behold. When you have adapted your pond, wait. It might be only the next breeding season (Feb-April) before Mr. and Mrs. Frog take up residence. Please don’t get spawn from other ponds, you could be transferring diseases and nasty invasive weeds and bugs. Being as the pond is the breeding area beware that male toads will have a go with anything vaguely toad shape, even ornamental fish. After a while you will have spawn, telling frog spawn from toad spawn is quite simple. Frogs lay their spawn in clumps, while toad spawn is in long strands. Did you know that one dollop of frog spawn can have 3,000 eggs? Don’t worry though you won’t get 3, 0 00 frogs, only a very small proportion will make it to adulthood. When your spawn has developed into tadpoles, you could help their chances of survival by feeding them. Being carnivorous, you could get a piece of scrap meat, no more than about 5cm in length. Fit this inside a bit of metal mesh, or a piece of a net bag that oranges come in. Tie this on the end of a cane or stick and lay it so the meat dangles in the water near the top. Then watch as hundreds of tadpoles scramble for the food. Replace after a couple of days. If you have a dog watch them if you decide to do this. My dog, even though well fed and cared for decided that the only bit of meat he ever wanted was the bit I put in the pond. We picked spawn and tadpoles out of his fur for hours. The best laid plans eh!!
The cottage garden, a perfect setting
Loads of toads
When it snows, don't forget the pond
In the summer toads and frogs like to sit in the shade or rummage among the undergrowth, making the typical cottage garden is an ideal environment for amphibians. Planting one boarder with perennials will attract the shade seeking frogs and toads. Placing your grass trimmings around your plants not only keeps moisture where it is needed, at the plants roots, but also provides frogs and toads the conditions they thrive in. Talking about grass trimmings, don’t forget when cutting your lawns; keep an eye out for your Froggy friends as we don’t want them to finish up shredded. If you want to provide a home or two in your garden then there are a couple of things you can do. Either buy one, there are plenty to choose from, or make one. My grandfather had a toad that lived under an old roof slate supported on two bricks. A neighbor had a terracotta plant pot that was split in half vertically by the frost. She simply buried the lower part of each pot in dirt, leaving a small gap for the toads and frogs to enter. This way she had two homes for toads. In the winter frogs and toads hibernate. This begins when the temperature drops in autumn and ends when it rises again in the spring. Male frogs hibernate in the mud at the bottom of the pond, so it is important that the pond does not freeze over. To avoid this, place a tennis ball in the water. This will save the pond from splitting, as the pressure of the ice presses against the ball. This is especially important if the pond is made from a plastic shell also moving the ball when the water is frozen breaks the ice up. If your pond is large put in several balls. Female frogs and toads hibernate on land, so if you have a toad/frog house put in leaves and stones in the autumn, and put it in a place sheltered from strong winds and under a bush or hedge to protect it from snow. Make sure the area you place your toad/frog house isn’t prone to flooding.
A summer visitor
All things toads and frogs
As mentioned before toads and frogs eat slugs and snails, in fact anything smaller is food, which includes mosquitoes and their lava, beetles and cockroaches. I have some lilies in pots in the garden and found the ones by the pond don’t get troubled by the lily beetle. It might be coincident as I haven’t seen any toads or frogs in the pots, so who knows.
Differences between frogs and toads
So what are the differences between toads and frogs? Frogs must keep their skin moist all the time. Whilst they do breathe using lungs, their skin takes up oxygen also (which is why it must stay moist). Toads have dry warty skin which, in many cases contains glands which excrete noxious chemicals to deter predators. Toads only need to return to water to breed and spawn. Frogs must stay close to water and spend more time in it than toads, which only return to water to breed.
The back legs of the common frog are more developed that those of the common toad. So, on land, frogs leap to get around, and toads crawl, although they can jump to escape predators: not as well as frogs though.
Frogs tend to be slender, while toads are plumper.
Toads lay their spawn in long strands and frogs lay their spawn in large clumps.
The tadpole of the toad is bigger than the frog tadpole.
Just one last piece of advice before this hub is finished, never, ever leave a small child alone by an unguarded pond. Either fence the pond area off, or net the pond.