Amphibians and pond life

Biodiversity is under threat and there is one group which is particularly threatened: the amphibians. There are several factor linked to the decline of amphibians and chytridiomycosis, a sometimes lethal disease caused by a fungus named Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and habitat loss are considered the biggest threats to these species.

In the UK it is estimated that more common frogs live in garden ponds than in the country side.  Where i live, in southern Netherlands,  we have several newts such as the smooth newt, the great crested newt and the alpine newt. In my pond both alpine newt and smooth newt have been seen. This is actually not so special, there are villages where most garden ponds are teeming with newts if you create the right conditions.

Above, a female alpine newt is laying her eggs. Look at the bright belly!. She is gorgeous.

This male has a rather bluish appearance and a rather small crest. The males are a bit smaller than the females.

The common frog is abundant in my garden. On wet days, i have to watch my step carefully as they are everywhere. They are thriving because the conditions are right. Not only do i have a place where they can breed, but there is also enough food to eat. As amphibians spend most of their time outside the water, the garden needs to meet their requirements. A log pile, shrubs and lots of vegetation and ideally some leaf litter will do the trick.

Above: female smooth newt laying her eggs. You can see she is depositing an egg and folds the leaf with the egg between it. She does that with each egg. They can produce some hundred eggs!.

The newts eat the frog spawn and if the newts leave the water, they might end up as dinner for the frog or birds so, it is all interconnected. 

Amphibians play a role in the ecosystem; they tend to keep the amount of slugs at a minimum for example. My hostas look great and the frogs deal with the hosta’s enemies.

About mybiodiversitygarden

Trying to raise awareness & share information about ecology and biodiversity and what gardeners can do to attract more wildlife
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9 Responses to Amphibians and pond life

  1. PermaGoddess says:

    Now I know what the newts in the ponds get up to! Great pics., Marco!
    Colx

  2. plantameadow says:

    I have a small pond in my garden alongside a massive log pile, stick and leaf pile usually frequented with a number of frogs. But no frog spawn this year.

    I’m wondering if the pond is too small and too shallow. Will investigate further and try to make it more hospitable.

    Glad yours is doing so well and thanks for the post.

    • Thank you for your comment. It could be that individual frogs do not produce frog spawn each year. As i have numerous frogs here, I would not be able to tell. You might want to check with ARG UK to see if there is a minimum size for ponds. The log pile is great! Lots of invertebrates will find a home there🙂

  3. Dawn Walker says:

    Hi there,

    I have an abundance of frog spawn every year in my massive (42,000ltr) pond.
    The idea was to make it wild and lovely, as well as a home for my, now around 200ish fish, but I have been ill for several years, and the pond has been halted.
    Having said that, the pond matured really quickly, as we pumped as much of the old pond water into the new pond, and it has been going strong now for about six years.

    The one thing we didn’t have was snails.
    My sister had chickens, and they had eaten most of the snails from their pond, so I took a piece of lily leaf with snail eggs to put in my pond, to provide for the chucks, and they stopped having them, and I am also chuck-less at the moment, so now we have a HUGE abundance of snails!
    I’ve just wondered if the frogs would eat pond snails. I can’t think why they wouldn’t, but then if they do, why is my pond full of them?! What do you think?

    To my delight a few years ago I spotted newts coming up from the deepest part of the pond of course. Generally speaking, and so far this year, the frogs are laying their eggs round the other side of the pond. I imagine it is easy enough to for them to find it, considering they found their way here from who knows where, but what do the eggs look like once laid on the frogspawn? I had no idea they were such little rascals!!

    My second question is, what are the best plants to grow? The only plants we have are what were in the old pond; Lillies, (Flat pad leaves, White flowers), and Yellow irises.
    I also have a heronry, half a mile away, so have netted, but will be making a welded metal cover, which will have nice big holes for the poor dragon flies, although I have cut holes at certain places for now anyway.
    (I am in Leicester, England).

    Thanking you in anticipation,

    Dawn 🙂

    • Good morning!
      Thank you for the interesting question. To my knowledge, frogs eat very little when inside the water, they are too busy finding a mate. I am talking about the common frog. When they leave the water, they eat all sorts of invertebrates: worms, flies, slugs etc. I have quite some snails in my pond too, mostly great pond snail, some great ramshorn and several river snails. The great pond snails live around three years. Predators of pond snails are fish, ducks, other water birds, leeches, some amphibians, and many aquatic insect larvae (such as dragonflies and beetles).
      The newts lay their eggs on aquatic plants, folding the leaves together so that they are not visible from predators like fish.

      https://www.google.nl/search?q=egg+of+newts&espv=2&biw=1680&bih=925&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwibivqu987LAhVBthoKHR2lCX0QsAQIIg

      Best plants to grow: make sure you have enough aquatic plants such as hornwort, shining pondweed since they provide oxygen. I also have frogbit, water soldiers and star duckweed (try to avoid other duckwood as they can clog the surface of the water, blocking sunlight).

      Be aware that fish are natural predators of frogs, newts and dragon fly larvae.
      Hope this bit of information is useful. Please let me know if you need more help.
      Enjoy the pond!, best regards, Marco.

      • Dawn Walker says:

        Thanks for your reply Marco,

        Yes, I had heard about the Fish eating frogs, but hadn’t given it much credence, as we have frogs galore, and the pond is abundant in other easier food for them, I’ve never found any proof of it, and I feed them when they are active too.
        I have plenty of places near the pond for the frogs to use, and rocks with gaps between around the edge of the pond, but if the young ARE at risk from the fish, is it better to give them an alternative home until they are older? I have an old bath I keep for emergencies, and lots of rocks?
        We did count 20 pairs of frogs one afternoon last year, on a lovely day, so we sat outside, next to the frogs coupled up, croaking beautifully, but I have only encountered the hoards of little froggies on the lawn when you try to mow and have to give up, so now I am a bit concerned?

        I have a dirty water pump which feeds into the box filter, and have found a fish and frog in there, when I was too ill to keep on top of the filter one summer!
        But I’m tongue in cheek as I’m guessing you mean the adult fish eating the young froglets…

        Yes indeed, it was pond plants for the newts I was particularly after, as I do have the fish, and nothing newts could lay their eggs in, unless they had adapted to what we have, which is unlikely.
        I thought I had seen somewhere, the newts laying on top of the frogspawn, but I can’t find it again, so I am thinking I misread something?

        I have dogs, who come back from a walk, sometimes with duck weed on them, and I hate letting them out, as the only way down the garden is over the pond bridge! How we’ve made it without getting it into the pond is beyond me!

        I am not sure what our snails are… They’re the pointy ones, if that helps!!
        So did I make a mistake introducing them to the pond??

        Lastly, I had the strangest thing happen about three years ago now. Completely healthy pond, water checked to be sure, but I was loosing a fish a day, about 4-5cm long in the body, all bar one was brown, dead but otherwise healthy!! This went on for a fortnight, and I was just about to introduce chemicals into the water, when I found a frog “Hugging” it’s newest victim!! Yes it was spawning time, and whilst they only seem to spawn in my pond for a week, this froggy had been trying to get frisky with the fisshys for a fortnight 🙂

        Thank you so much Marco,

        Dawn 🙂

  4. Dawn Walker says:

    Sorry Marco,
    but I ** HAVEN’T encountered the hoards of little froggies on the lawn when you try to mow and have to give up **MORE THAN ONCE FOR YEARS , so now I am a bit concerned?

  5. Dear Dawn,
    Fish are known to eat tadpoles and the little froglets will be eaten by birds and other animals. When it is spawning time, male frogs get very enthusiastic so yes, he may have become a bit frisky indeed🙂. Fish are natural predators of tadpoles but that is why the female frog lays so many eggs; only some will become adults.
    Often when you release chemicals in the pond, you will disturb the balance and the delicate balance. I never use chemicals, just a bit of chalk so that the aquatic plants grow well.
    Best regards,
    Marco

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