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Toads and frogs

Updated on July 19, 2014

Frog in a pond

Toads don't live in ponds only breed there
Toads don't live in ponds only breed there

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

The new pond with the broken pot as a toad shelter top right
The new pond with the broken pot as a toad shelter top right

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding hearts look great and offer great shelter for frogs and toads in the spring
Bleeding hearts look great and offer great shelter for frogs and toads in the spring

Autumn shade

Autumn Sedum for shade around the pond
Autumn Sedum for shade around the pond


I might look innocent, but I was a bad lad
I might look innocent, but I was a bad lad

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

The cover these plants give is ideal for frogs and toads
The cover these plants give is ideal for frogs and toads

Loads of toads

A toad and frog friendly garden will soon have visitors
A toad and frog friendly garden will soon have visitors

When it snows, don't forget the pond

When a pond freezes it could split!!
When a pond freezes it could split!!


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

He was lovely until he leapt at me, sending me screaming up the path.
He was lovely until he leapt at me, sending me screaming up the path.


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.


The frog chorus


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    • profile image

      funny frogs 

      4 years ago

      i don't know what type of toad or frog i have i have 10 toads/frogs that range in colors green to brown they love being in the habitat i made them out of mud, water ,leafs,and some twigs and a piece of cardboard ,i love them but as for food and habitat i don't know what to do:(

      (i do have some worms that are good to eat for them)

    • htodd profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      Great hub ,Thanks for sharing

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks In2deep- It's great when your pond is blessed like that with tadpoles. They are great to watch, but we don't get Bull frogs only little ones. But they are still quite noisy in the spring

    • IN2Deep profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      I love frogs and toads-I built a pond with a waterfall in 2005.Within a day or two of the first water fill-they're were millions of tadpoles.I love watching them in and around the pond.We also get some really big Bull frogs. :) Great Hub

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks Ethel,Our pond is small but has it regular visitors

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Very informative Hub. We filled our pond in a couple of years ago but still have frogs appearing in the garden at this time of year. It sometimes sounds like the deep south with frogs in each garden croaking away.

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks M T Dreamer, I think natural solutions are the best solutions. Thanks for commenting

    • M. T. Dremer profile image

      M. T. Dremer 

      8 years ago from United States

      Very informative hub! I don't even have a back yard and I found this fascinating. I love natural solutions to pest problems. Why use harmful chemicals to get rid of slugs when you can just set up a home for frogs? Well done!

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Hi Stephen,

      I often wonder why they say dumb animals. I know they are not nice but I saw a rat waiting in the gutter until he heard the beeping of the pedestrian crossing, then he crossed the road. Amazing. Thanks for your comment. Your frog story has made my day.

      love julie

    • World-Traveler profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Hello Jayjay40,

      Interesting information on frogs. I used to have frogs as pets when I was young.

      Here is an interesting frog story for you. When I was teaching English in Thailand I used to sit at a motorcycle taxi stand watching the Thai Tuk-Tuks ferry their passengers along the way.

      One night I observed a frog at the edge of the road. I watched the frog as it looked across the road. There was a marsh that was separated by the road. I could not understand why the frog wanted to cross the road when the marsh from which it came was the same on the other side. But not to question the frogs intent I trusted the frog knew what was best for him.

      Minutes passed as the frog watched the traffic criss-crossing the road.

      Finally, the frog took it first jump away from the safety of the side of the road toward the other side. I watched in horror, but still trusting the frog knew what was best.

      The frog made four leaps to the white striped divider in the center of the road while cars, trucks, motorcycle taxis, and Tuk-Tuks sped along their way. The frog did not panic but held its position.

      Then, after about five minutes when the road was clear of traffic, the frog leapt across the other half of the road to safety. I was dumbfounded and amazed.

      I have often thought about that frog, how it survived, not only the traffic on the busy road but also the many predators that were part of the life cycle of the marsh.

      As I read through some of your posts I saw your interest in frogs and thought I would share my frog story with you.

      Perhaps there is wisdom in the old saying to look before you leap. That wise old saying certainly applies to frogs, and who knows, the saying may have derived from a writer who one day in the past observed a frog along an ancient road looking before he leapt.


    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Toads and frogs are wonderful creatures that need our help at the moment. Thanks for the comment Bard of Ely

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I love frogs and toads. We have two types of frog on Tenerife: the Iberian Water Frog and the Stripeless Treefrog. Both depend on ornamental pools, reservoirs and irrigation tanks for breeding places.

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks 2patricias, ponds are a great thing in the garden. Happy new year to you both.

    • 2patricias profile image


      8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Pat writes - this is a great hub (I must tell Tricia). Both of us have garden ponds, but you have some good tips for helping frogs and toads. There is always something else to learn.

      V.funny tale about your dog!

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      LOL thanks for the comment Tobey. Go on have some more ponds, it makes mowing a challenge

    • tobey100 profile image


      8 years ago from Whites Creek, Tennessee

      Loved Toads and Frogs. I gotta keep my wife away from this hub. I'll have so many ponds I might drown cutting the grass.

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks Bob, you and me think alike on this subject

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 

      8 years ago from New Brunswick

      A pond is a great idea and encouraging nature a must.

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      You are so kind D.A.L thanks for reading my hubs

    • D.A.L. profile image


      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Another excellent and informative hub. keep up the good work!

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks Mrwerd, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub, and yes the dog is a real nightmare!

    • mrwerd profile image


      9 years ago from South West, United Kingdom

      What a great hub! That dog looks extremely mischievous mind. Looking forward to learning something else from your next hub. Get cracking! :-)

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks, Yes a pond is quite tricky to maintain for wildlife. It's easier if you only want a pond for decoration

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 

      9 years ago

      Interesting didn't know that having a little pond was so technical. LOL

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      9 years ago from south Florida

      Learned a lot I didn't know about frogs and toads and such. Thanks for the hub.


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