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Frog, toad or newt spawn?

Turning the attention to garden ponds, frogs would have started spawning from late January, but now the toads and newts will start. Frogs spawn in a clump. Whilst toads spawn in rows which attaches to pond plants (see photo) and newts spawn individual eggs which are wrapped in plant leaves within the pond. When they develop into tadpoles they can be easily identified by their development. Frogs are black and stay as a shoal when they first hatch. As they develop they turn a mottled brown and grow their back legs first. Toads develop in a similar way but stay black and tend to stay in shoals while the tadpoles of the frogs start to separate as they develop. The newts develop a frill behind their heads and grow their front legs first. All 3 amphibians spend most of their lives on land only spending time in water during the breeding season. They are all great pest controllers gobbling up the slugs and insects in your garden. Newts tend to spend more time in the water, this is because one of their favorite foods is frog spawn and tadpoles. This is a natural cycle and the reason why frogspawn is abundant because the majority will be predated not only by newts but birds. There are 3 native newts here in the uk; the smooth, the palmate and the rare great crested. I have added a link for identification. You can also report your findings here too.

Even though you may be lucky enough to find all 3 in your garden, whether you have a pond or not you are most likely to find a toad. They are creatures of habit, so will use the same resting, breeding and foraging sites. They can spend many hours of their day being perfectly still resting in a muddy burrow, or leaf pile going unnoticed but come out at night to feed. They are most active when it is wet.

If you want to encourage more amphibians into your garden you can make a pond, it can be made as small as a washing up bowl dug into the ground. Put some stones or small rocks along one side for easy entrance for our watery friends and watch the wildlife it attracts.

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