Spring is on its way which means frogs and toads will be making their way to suitable water bodies to breed. Maybe you have spotted amphibian activity or spawn in your area already!
One question that I often get asked is how to tell the difference between frogs and toads? Here are the main characteristics to help you identify them correctly.
Common Frogs can be a variety of colours but are usually olive green/brown with dark markings, stripy legs and a dark patch behind the eye. Their skin is smooth and moist and they have long legs for jumping. They tend to lay their spawn in shallow bodies of water where there are fewer predators of the tadpoles. The spawn is laid in clumps of jelly-covered eggs early in spring and as the tadpoles mature they become brown and speckled.
Common Toads tend to be darker coloured with dry, bumpy or ‘warty’ skin. They have golden eyes with horizontal pupils and two distinctive lumps behind the eyes. These lumps are glands which produce a toxin in their skin, making them unpalatable to predators. They prefer to spawn in larger, deeper bodies of water and their spawn is laid in ‘chains’, a double row of eggs which they often wrap around the vegetation. The tadpoles are black and like the adults, they have toxins in their skin to deter predation.
Did you know that frogs and toads don’t actually live in water! They only return there to breed and the tadpoles also leave the water once fully developed. If you do have a pond please provide easy access in and out to prevent them from drowning.
Frogs are seen in or around ponds on hotter days as they cool down. Once they leave the pond, they can be found in vegetation or damp places. In winter they shelter under rocks, in compost heaps or at the bottom of ponds. Toads are often found under logs or in compost heaps but can cope with drier habitats.
Both are gardeners’ friends, eating slugs, snails and other invertebrates!
Gretchen Taylor, WTSWW's People & Wildlife Officer