Answers to some frequently asked questions about frogs and toads.

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What sort of frog or toad have I seen - how can I tell the difference?

I have found an unusually coloured frog / toad, what is it?

How can I encourage frogs / toads into my garden - can I get some from somewhere?

I've found a frog / toad in my garden, what shall I do?

I have too many frogs / toads in my pond, shall I move some?

I have found dead frogs / toads, what's going on?

I've disturbed a frog / toad from hibernation, what shall I do with it?

Why have frogs / toads arrived in spring when there is no pond?

I haven't got any frogs / toads this year, what might be wrong?

I am working on my pond, what shall I do with the frogs / toads in it?

A frog / toad habitat is threatened, what can be done?

I have found an injured, sick or bloated frog / toad, what can I do for it?

Frogs / toads are being eaten or killed, what can be done?

I heard a frog scream when it was picked up, is this normal?


What sort of frog or toad have I seen - how can I tell the difference?

Frogs usually have smooth skin whereas a toad's skin tends to be more warty. There are two species of frog and two species of toad native to the UK:

  • Common frogs are the most likely species to see in your garden or pond. They have long, muscular legs and are usually yellowish or brown in colour, with a variety of stripes and spots. But they are very variable in colour and pattern. Often, you can see a "bandit mask" that runs through the frog's eye!
  • Common toads also live in gardens but tend not to breed in garden ponds. They have shorter legs and tend to walk or hop rather than jump. Usually brownish in colour, they have bright orange eyes
  • Pool frogs are rare, found only at two sites in East Anglia. They are more aquatic than common frogs, have a more pointed face, and often a pale stripe running down the middle of the back.
  • Natterjack toads are rare and only found in sand dunes, sandy heath and coastal marshes. They are smaller than common toads, often have a thin stripe down the back; they also have a very loud call.

You can also take a look at our amphibian identification pages to see which species you've seen or read about non-natives amphibians.

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I have found an unusually coloured frog / toad, what is it?

 The UK's amphibians are very variable in colour. This can sometimes make identification difficult but it is more likely that the animal you have seen is a common species with unusual colouring, rather than something exotic.

Common frogs, for example, can appear brown, orange, red, cream or even black. Male common frogs can also develop a blue tinge to their throats in spring, and females can appear more pink or red. Occasionally, a red colouring can be a sign of disease, but usually only when coupled with other symptoms.

Visit our amphibian identification pages to download our free Amphibian ID Guide.

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How can I encourage frogs / toads into my garden - can I get some from somewhere?

In most parts of the UK, amphibians (particularly common frogs and smooth newts) should find their own way to ponds, as long as they are in the area and can access the garden. It can take two years or more for a pond to be colonised, even when conditions are ideal, so do not be concerned if your pond is not immediately full of amphibians! Download our Dragons in your Garden leaflet for tips on attracting amphibians.

  • What the law says: All wild, native amphibians (all stages including spawn and tadpoles) are protected against sale or trade. Please inform us if you see amphibians being sold (including on internet auction sites).
  • We do not recommend moving animals or their spawn. This is because moving animals can unknowingly transfer wildlife diseases and invasive plants between ponds.

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I've found a frog / toad in my garden, what shall I do?

Amphibians spend the majority of their life on land and are often found in gardens, sometimes hundreds of metres from ponds / water. Common frogs are frequently found in urban areas and gardens are an important amphibian habitat in their own right.

If the animal is trapped or in danger, release it into another part of the garden that provides cover from predators and extreme weather, such as in a compost heap, underneath a garden shed or near / underneath dense foliage; it does not need to be moved to in a pond. If your garden does not seem 'amphibian-friendly' move the animal to your neighbour's garden or the nearest suitable habitat (within 1km).

Please do report your sightings!

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I have too many frogs / toads in my pond, shall I move some?

During spring, amphibians return to ponds to breed. In garden ponds, common frogs can be particularly numerous at this time of year. This is a completely natural phenomenon, typical of amphibian populations around the world, with some years being particularly successful and others less so. Spawning can last for a couple of weeks and activity will then decline, with adults moving to different parts of the pond or leaving the water completely. In the case of common toads, the vast majority will only spend a small amount of time in the water.

  • We do not advise that you attempt to move frogs, toads or their spawn away from your pond: by taking them to a different pond you may unwittingly transfer various diseases and invasive plants. Also, many amphibians will try to return to the pond they spawned in and there is a danger that they will suffer as a result of being placed in an unsuitable area or get killed on their return journey.
  • During the summer you may notice large numbers of tiny emerging common frogs and common toads leaving the pond after they have fully metamorphosed. Again, this is completely natural (safety in numbers) - most will disperse over the following days and weeks. Only a small proportion of these will survive to return as adults; many will fall prey to other wildlife - amphibians play an important role in food chains. We advise that you avoid mowing the lawn during this period. When you next cut the lawn carefully walk the route first to ensure that no amphibians are hiding in the grass.

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I have found dead frogs / toads, what's going on?

Depending on the time of year there could be several reasons for finding dead frogs or toads:

  • In winter ice can form over the pond. The ice forms a barrier which stops toxic gases (naturally caused by decaying pond detritus) escaping from the pond and this can sometimes kill frogs hibernating there. You may reduce the chances of this by leaving a floating object, like a ball, in the pond. This leaves a hole through which gases can escape. Recent research suggests that this may be ineffective, and growth of plants and green algae may be more helpful, as these oxygenate the water, even under ice. Never pour hot water onto the ice - this can lead to animals within the pond suffering from temperature shock - and don't use salt or chemicals; do not smash the ice as this can damage the pond liner and the pond life.
  • Dead amphibians found away from the pond have probably been caught out by a sudden change in weather or have been disturbed by a predator.
  • In spring, frogs and toads migrate to their preferred breeding ponds. 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 Common Toads and Roads leaflet.
  • Sometimes, female frogs or toads which have arrived at the pond to breed are accidentally suffocated by males, and / or die from exhaustion - breeding uses a lot of energy and leave them more vulnerable to predation and diseases.
  • Additionally, some predators (such as rats or mink) target breeding frogs and toads as a convenient source of food, and sometimes leave their remains near to the pond.
  • In summer, small frogs and toads in particular can be vulnerable to dehydration when leaving their ponds. To avoid this happening make sure there is plenty of shade and shelter provided by plants around the edge of the pond, as well as a ramp to ensure they can easily get out of the water.

 You may also like to take a look at our amphibian disease pages or visit the Garden Wildlife Health website.

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I've disturbed a frog / toad from hibernation, what shall I do with it?

Amphibians are dormant in winter, taking advantage of milder patches of weather to come out and forage. For this reason, if you do disturb an animal in winter, it should be unharmed if covered up and left undisturbed. If you are unable to put the animal back where you found it, place it somewhere that offers protection from frost and garden predators like cats. Suitable places include log piles, under sheds or within your compost heap; it should not be somewhere 'warm', just a place that keeps free of frost.

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Why have frogs / toads arrived in spring when there is no pond?

Amphibians migrate to ponds in spring, often returning to areas where they spawned in previous years. If ponds have been removed it can be common for amphibians to still return to the same area. In most cases amphibians will eventually move off of their own accord.

  • Ideally, consider re-digging a pond. If child safety is an issue there are solutions, including raised ponds, pond grilles and fencing. Some ponds can be installed quickly and simply - see our Dragons in Your Garden leaflet and our FAQs about Ponds.
  • Occasionally frogs will spawn in damp grass or in small puddles of water near where the pond was sited previously. If this happens carefully put the spawn in a bucket, and move it to the nearest garden / private pond, asking permission first. Please do not move spawn to a wild pond as you may inadvertently transfer amphibian diseases.
  • There is no organisation that will come to your garden and remove adult amphibians or spawn.

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I haven't got any frogs / toads this year, what might be wrong?

Frogs and toads breed in the spring when they migrate to their breeding ponds / ditches / etc. Migration is weather dependent (they prefer mild, wet evenings) and so is determined by location - it tends to occur later in the north and east of the country and earlier in the south. Visit Nature's Calendar to view how spawning dates differ around the country. In some cases, lack of breeding amphibians in your pond could be the result of a local population decline. Only 1% of spawn are considered to make it to full adulthood.

  • Amphibian populations can fluctuate dramatically year on year, so having years with low numbers of amphibians can be a natural phenomenon and nothing to worry about. If no breeding adults appear in your pond, there may be other juvenile amphibians in the area that will turn up next year as breeding adults (frogs take two or three years to reach breeding age). You may be tempted to introduce some spawn from elsewhere to try and help your local population but we advise against this. By moving spawn you can accidentally introduce diseases and invasive pond plants.
  • To find out how to make your garden more attractive to amphibians download our Dragons in Your Garden leaflet.

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I am working on my pond, what shall I do with the frogs / toads in it?

If possible, delay pond maintenance until late autumn (September/October), so that tadpoles have been given time to metamorphose and before adult frogs return to the pond to hibernate (male frogs may lie dormant on the bottom of the pond during winter). If you need to carry out the work more urgently, place any amphibians you find in a tank or suitable container, preferably with pond water, while you do the work and return them to the garden / pond when you've finished.

Occasionally tadpoles/newt larvae remain in the pond over the winter and develop the following spring, so be sure to be check the pond carefully at any time of year before starting work.

If you are considering filling in your pond because of safety concerns we advise you to consider installing some simple safety precautions for the pond instead, see our Pond FAQ: 'How can I make my pond safer for children?'. There is no organisation that will pick up animals disturbed as a result of you filling in your pond.

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A frog / toad habitat is threatened, what can be done?

Please see our advice on Development Threats and Planning Issues.

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I have found an injured, sick or bloated frog / toad, what can I do for it?

Please visit our amphibian disease pages. You may also like to take a look at the Garden Wildlife Health website.

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Frogs / toads are being eaten or killed, what can be done?

Amphibians form a crucial part of the diet of many animals so you can expect to see a number of predators in your garden if there are frogs (in particular) present. Some predators, like grass snakes, have disappeared from many parts of the UK where they once thrived; having these animals in your garden is a privilege.

Cats sometimes like to catch and play with frogs, and might kill them. Adding a variety of places in your garden for amphibians to hide when disturbed is the best advice. Log piles, rockeries, dense low-growing foliage and water bodies can all provide places where frogs can hide and cats have trouble getting their paws into.

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I heard a frog scream when it was picked up, is this normal?

Frogs can sometimes let out a shrill shrieking noise when disturbed or picked up by pets, predators or people. This is a natural form of defence. Some frogs may also 'play dead'. Toads, on the other hand, can inflate themselves with air - which makes them look bigger to possible predators and too big to be eaten!

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