Frequently Asked Questions
about... frogs and toads:
I have found dead frogs / toads, what's
Depending on the time of year there could be several explanations for
why amphibians may be found dead in gardens.
In particularly heavy winters, when ice forms over the pond for
prolonged periods, frogs may suffer from 'winterkill'. Essentially, the
ice forms a barrier which stops toxic gases (naturally caused by
decaying pond detritus) escaping from the pond. In some ponds this can
kill common frogs, males of which may choose to lie dormant on the
bottom of the pond over winter. You can reduce the chances of winterkill
by leaving a floating object, like a ball, in the pond which can be
removed after ice has formed. This leaves a hole through which gases can
escape. Alternatively, use a pan of hot water placed on the ice to melt
a hole. Never pour on hot water - this can lead to animals within the
pond suffering from temperature shock - or use salt or chemicals; do not
smash the ice as this can damage the pond liner and the pond life.
Amphibians found away from the pond have probably been caught out by a
sudden change in weather or have been disturbed by a predator.
It can be common for amphibians to die naturally after breeding has
taken place, sometimes in quite large numbers. Spawning requires a great
deal of energy and such exertions can leave amphibians lethargic and
more open to predation or natural diseases. Animals that are known to
prey on breeding amphibians (particularly frogs and toads) include:
foxes, cats, mink, stoats, otters and rats.
Female common frogs and common toads can occasionally become suffocated
by males during spawning time. Though distressing to observe, this is a
completely natural phenomenon; you should not attempt to separate 'mating
balls' as this can damage the animals legs.
During spring amphibians make migrations to breeding ponds, sometimes
moving up to half a mile or more. Roads pose a particular problem in
some areas where they interrupt migration routes, and dead amphibians,
particularly toads, on
roads can be a common sight - see our Toads on Roads campaign. Please inform us of
sites where you have seen this taking place.
In particularly hot summers, exposed amphibians can die from dehydration
(desiccation). This is a particular threat to froglets that have just
left the pond. To avoid this happening make sure there is plenty of
shade and shelter provided by plants around the edge of the pond.
If you have found dead froglets in the pond itself then it's likely that
they have been unable to get out of the water. When tadpoles
metamorphose into froglets they are reliant on breathing air and they
are particularly susceptible to drowning at this life-stage. To avoid
this happening create gently sloping sides to the pond and areas where
it's easy for animals (including small mammals who may fall in by
accident) to leave the water.
In adult amphibians, diseases can be common at this time of year. If you
have found large numbers of dead frogs that are very thin and were
lethargic before death, please get in touch and help our research into
Common Toads and Roads
Dragons in your Garden. >>>