The common frog
During mild spells in February and March some of our garden ponds will begin to bulge with the spawn of amphibious creatures and none is more obvious than that of the common frog.
Common frog photographed by David Chapman
After emerging from their hibernation sites under logs or in holes, where they have spent the entire winter without eating, frogs may travel up to one kilometre until they reach what is usually their own birth pond in search of a mate. The males tend to arrive a little earlier than the slightly darker females and they sit in wait for them, often gently croaking in anticipation.
A lucky male will be able to attach himself to the back of a female in a hug known as amplexus, literally a ‘fond hug’. Their specially adapted thumbs and exceptionally strong arm muscles help them to keep a grip under the armpits of their slippery partners. Where females are outnumbered by males several male frogs might try to hold on to one female and a sparring mass of croaking frogs will ensue.
When spawning takes place frogs lay their eggs in a single clump of up to two thousand eggs. The jelly substrate surrounding the eggs continues to expand, through absorption of water, after it is laid.
It is fascinating to watch as the frog spawn develops into tadpoles and then again into miniature frogs. These clever little amphibians will then scatter themselves around your garden and eat as many slugs as they can, so, apart from the slugs, everyone’s a winner!
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