World wide there are around 4000 species of Frogs and Toads only 25 of these are found in Europe. Present in the UK are the The Common Toad – ‘Bufo bufo’, Natterjacker Toad – ‘Bufo calamita’, Midwife Toad – Alytes obstetricans’, Marsh Frog or Lake Frog – ‘Rana ridibunda’, Tree Frog – ‘Hyla arborea’, Pool Frog – ‘Rana lessonae’, Edible Frog – ‘Rana esculenta’, but most common is the Common Frog or Grass Frog ‘Rana temporaria’.
The Common Frog or Grass Frog ‘Rana temporaria’ is extensive across most parts of Central and Northern Europe, including Great Britain and Ireland, the amphibian is active from February to October, hibernating through the winter in the mud at the bottom of ponds and under logs and leaf piles. More active at night but a summer shower will bring them leaping about in the day.
Having a rather thick set body with a blunt head, its size is between 4cm–9cm with variable colouring, greys, browns olive and yellows with dark variable patterned blotches, less frequent but orange and reds can occur. The tympanum (ear drum) is clear. From the region of the temples there is a prominent line of slightly raised glands called the paratoid glands. When the legs are folded along the body the heel will reach the eye where in other species the length could be past the snout.
Tadpoles feed on algae but soon become carnivores. Adult Frogs have a long sticky tongue used for catching their pray. Flying insects, Beetles, worms, Slugs and Snails are all on the Frogs menu, to the point that slug and snail populations will be reduced to a manageable level with out the use of chemicals (slug pellets insecticides). The use of chemicals to control pests in your garden could harmfully affect their food and drain into your pond.
You may not be able to see Frogs in the winter months as they hibernate in mud at the bottom of ponds under rotting logs and leaf piles. If you have a compost heap you will often find Frogs making use of it. These places should not be disturbed during the winter months and if necessary pond cleaning should not be done later than September.
Dangers to Frogs
The destruction of suitable habitat is leading to a decline in frogs to the point of endangerment, the common frog now being not so common. Modern farming with the use of pesticides and the filling in of ponds for development has greatly contributed. Frogs have colonized the suburban garden but again the obsessive use of chemicals to control pests in the garden harmfully affects their environment and food, Slugs poisoned by slug pellets will then be eaten by the frogs and chemicals will drain in to a pond.
Frogs are protected by the the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 It is prohibited to sell, barter, exchange, transporting for sale and advertising to sell or to buy. Further protection applies to other amphibians such as great crested newt, natterjack toad.