Surprising a frog in the dark

When common frogs (Rana temporaria) laid spawn in the tiny garden pond there was also a smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) in the pond and I wondered if the newt would stay and eat the tadpoles. That was at the beginning of April and the tadpoles hatched out a couple of weeks later. It is now the third week in May, the pond is still full of tadpoles and I haven’t seen a newt in the pond for a month. It makes me wonder why the newt hasn’t stayed around to take advantage of the food source, but maybe there are more rewarding ponds nearby.

tadpoles-0518Still there, then

If some of the tadpoles survive to become froglets, they will leave the pond en masse in late summer. The adults, having mated and laid spawn, left the pond some time ago and are in their terrestrial phase. They spend their time hiding in damp and shady locations, coming out at night to find food. I am already finding quite a few frogs and toads in gardens and they hide so well that it is only the movement of foliage, or the predatory glare of someone’s cat, that gives them away. We surprised a frog the other night – seeing friends out late one evening, the automatic light came on and surprised a frog making its way up the garden path. I felt a bit sorry for it suddenly finding itself in the glare of the spotlight so a quick picture was taken and the light hurriedly switched off again, leaving the frog to regain its equilibrium and continue with its business.

nighttime-frogStartled frog, probably not expecting to be the spotlight at midnight

Having downloaded the pictures from the camera, my curiosity got the better of me and I looked more closely for the details that would show whether it was male or female frog. Male frogs are generally a bit smaller than the females and have a lighter coloured throat during the mating season, but one of the main features is that males have thick, rough cushion-like pads on their ‘thumbs’, called ‘nuptial pads‘, which help them to hold onto the female during mating. This frog’s thumbs looked distinctly slender, so I think she is very likely female. Not that it matters for the main thing is that there is at least one frog at work in the courtyard garden.

nighttime-frog-2

2 thoughts on “Surprising a frog in the dark

  1. What a lovely surprise Miranda! I’m hoping for some frogs or toads too, I’ve created a little safe-haven for them. And my next door neighbour has tad poles enough to share so I’m in with a chance.

    1. I bet you’ve already got frogs and toads, Eva. It would be interesting to go and look after dark and see what they’re up to.

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