Wild About... Frogs and Frogspawn

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1 a Wild About... Rutland County Council

2 Nature notes Frogs belong to a group of animals called amphibians, which also includes newts and toads. Amphibians live both on land and in water. Water is needed for breeding. Frogs are usually found in small ponds, ditches or canals. Frog Facts Frogs travel to ponds in spring to find a mate and breed. Frogs lay large clumps of eggs called spawn. Each clump can hold up to 2000 eggs. Frogs need to lay huge numbers of eggs because only a few will live long enough to turn into adults. Frogspawn is often killed by frost, diseases, drying out, or being eaten by other animals, such as birds, fish, newts or foxes. Frogs have good eyesight and can see movement very well. This helps them when hunting for food, such as insects. A quarter of a frog s diet is made up of slugs and snails. Frogs are attracted to water by the smell of algae. The algae provides food for their tadpoles. Tadpoles do not always develop into frogs. This can happen if there are too many in a pond, or the weather is too cold. Frogs can breath through their skin when they are hibernating at the bottom of a pond. Frogs eyes stick up so they can see out of the water and still stay hidden.

3 Spot the difference Frogs and toads look very similar, but here are some of the differences between them. Frogs Smooth moist skin A pointy hump on their backs A black or brown patch behind each eye Gold or brown coloured eyes Long legs for jumping Spawn in clumps Toads Dry lumpy skin A blunt, round nose Orange or copper coloured eyes Hop, crawl or run rather than jump Spawn in long strings Newts Newts are amphibians with tails. There are three species in Britain: palmate newt, smooth newt and great crested newt. You are most likely to see the smooth newt when you are looking in ponds. Like frogs and toads they return to water in spring to mate and breed. Newt eggs are very different to frog and toad spawn. Each egg is wrapped up carefully in a folded leaf of a pond plant. This protects the eggs from animals that may eat them.

4 How to watch frogs Frogs, and other amphibians, are easiest to see in spring when they gather in ponds to breed. Tadpoles, and some adult frogs and newts, can still be seen in ponds in the summer, and adults can be found on land too. Frogs like small sunny ponds, long grass, log piles and bushes where they can hide. Frogs can be disturbed by loud sounds, or movement, so sit quietly by a pond and wait for the frogs to appear. Move slowly and quietly. Frogspawn is easier to see as it floats on the surface of the water. Tadpoles are easy to catch with a small net - put them in a jar, or tub, to watch them. Equipment You don t need any equipment to watch frogs and spawn, but if you want to get a closer look at tadpoles, you can use a pond net and a jar or tub, or a pond viewer. More information You can find more information about frogs, and other pond life, in your local library. Keep Safe Working near water can be dangerous. Always go with an adult and never wade in the water unless an adult tells you it is safe. Cover cuts and grazes with water proof plasters. Don t eat,or put your hands or objects near your mouth, until you have washed your hands. Look after amphibians Don t move frogs from one pond to another as this can spread disease. Always put spawn, tadpoles and adult amphibians back where they came from. Take care not to churn up the edge of the pond where lots of animals live. Frogs and other amphibians need damp conditions - don t leave them in dry places. You may see newt eggs wrapped up in leaves - do not unwrap them as it can harm them. Great crested newts are protected by law. You need a special licence to catch, or disturb, them because their numbers are declining and they need to be looked after. Don t try to catch newts - just watch them.

5 In your nature diary Here are some ideas of what you can do in your nature diary: 1. Every couple of days, take a look at the frogspawn or tadpoles and see how much they have developed. Make drawings or take photographs, and keep notes of the changes that you see. 2. Lots of eggs don t turn into frogs. Keep a count of the tadpoles at each stage, and watch the pond to see if you can see what happens to them. Are they eaten by other animals? Write about what you see. 3. Frogs come in lots of different colours. Record all the different colours you see, using pencil crayons or paints, in your nature diary. 4. In spring, there are often lots of stories, about frogs, in the newspapers. Look out for stories, cut them out and stick them in your nature diary. Are frogs liked by people? 5. Sit quietly by a pond for ten minutes. Look, listen and think. Write in your diary about the sounds, shapes and colours you see or hear.

6 Survey for frogspawn Have a look for frogspawn in a pond, ditch or canal. This can be in your garden, a park, or somewhere you walk by. Remember how to keep safe around water. Count how many clumps of frogspawn you can see and write the details in the form below. Use a different form for each pond, or if you visit lots of ponds, use the other form (Survey for amphibians). Send the form to Community Heritage Initiative, Holly Hayes Environment and Heritage Resources Centre, Leicestershire County Council, 216 Birstall Road, Birstall, LE4 4DG. On which date did you see frogspawn? Where did you find the spawn? Place name Postcode How many clumps of spawn did you see? What type of water was the spawn in? Small pond Large pond or lake Canal Ditch Stream Your details Name Address Did you see any toad spawn? Yes No Did you see any dead spawn (grey and dull-looking)? Yes No

7 Survey for amphibians Use this form to record the places you see frogs, toads or newts. Try to count how much frog or toad spawn you see but remember how to keep safe around water. Send the form to Community Heritage Initiative, Holly Hayes Environment and Heritage Resources Centre, Leicestershire County Council, 216 Birstall Road, Birstall, LE4 4DG. Name Address Location Numbers seen in pond Newts Date Town/village or place name Grid reference Post code Adult frogs Clumps of frogspawn Adult toads Strings of toad spawn Number of newts Species of newt if known Did you see a newt egg? 14/2/05 Birstall SU LE4 4DG smooth no

8 What to do Make a pond net and an underwater viewer (see Field Kit section). What can you see through your viewer? You may be able to see the frogs and tadpoles but are there other plants and animals living in the pond? Use the minibeast identification chart to name the animals you see. Make your pond frog-friendly If you have a garden pond, you can check to see if it is frog-friendly. The following things are good for frogs. Make the pond edge slope gently, or use stones or branches to help frogs get in and out of the pond. Plant lots of different types of plants in the water, and in the pond margin, for frogs and tadpoles to hide in. Make a deep part in the middle of the pond for frogs to hibernate in during the winter. Keep trees and bushes trimmed back, to let lots of sun in, as tadpoles like warm water. Let the grass near the pond grow long for froglets to hide in, but try not to step on them. Make your garden frog-friendly Even if you don t have a pond, you can make a space more frog-friendly, and frogs will be tempted to visit you from nearby ponds. Log piles these can be good damp resting places and a home to many minibeasts, which frogs and other amphibians like to eat. Log piles are also good places to hide. Long grass and plants these give frogs shelter from the sun and are good places to hide from predators such as birds or cats.

9 What to do Make a mini pond You can make a mini pond in your garden. Even a tiny pond can be a home for frogs, pond skaters, beetles, snails and pond plants. You will need: An old sink or washing up bowl, but not one made of copper or lead. Bricks. Plastic plant pots with holes cut in the side. Plants such as hornwort and sedges available from garden centres or aquatic shops. Dig a hole the same size as your sink or bowl and lower the container into the ground. Fill it up with water from a rain butt, or the tap. If you have to fill up with tap water remember to leave it to stand for a few hours before adding any plants so that chemicals in the water can evaporate. Put in the bricks to provide different depths, and the plant pots to act as baskets for the water plants. Add the plants: milfoil or hornwort in the open water, sedges or water plantain on the shallow ledges, and a small lily if it is deep enough. Remember to ask an adult for permission, and help, if you are using the garden.

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