When do frogs spawn? And how to spot them
Conservation research & evidence officer
The lifecycle of a frog is one of nature’s wonders. It all starts with clusters of jelly containing thousands of embryos. Find out when frogs spawn and the best time to spot these fascinating jellified clumps in ponds near you.
When do frogs spawn?
Frogspawn appears in ponds from January onwards, depending on the weather and the region (the South West usually has the first sightings). By March, you should be able to spot frogspawn in ponds across the UK.
Credit: Linda Pitkin / naturepl.com
How do frogs breed?
Frogs can breed from between two and three years old. They often return to the pond where they were spawned, and males attract females by croaking. Breeding involves the male attaching himself to the back of the female by grasping her under the forelegs, where he stays until she lays her eggs. As the females lay spawn the males fertilise it by spraying sperm over them. It is possible for more than one male to fertilise a female’s spawn.
Credit: John Bridges / WTML
Females lay their spawn in well-vegetated, shaded, shallow ponds. As the eggs mature, the clusters of spawn swell and float to the water’s surface. There may be so many clusters in a pond that they merge to look like one jelly mat. Frogspawn is therefore difficult to miss!
There’s no such thing as too much frogspawn, so don’t worry if your pond is full of it! In fact, the more the better - only around one in 50 eggs laid will survive to adulthood. This is because they are vulnerable to a host of predators at different life stages.
If you don’t have a garden pond, why not head out to your local park, nature reserve or wood and keep your eyes peeled for ponds that may have frogspawn?
UK frogs and threats
The UK has two native species of frog, the common frog (Rana temporaria) and the pool frog (Pelophylax lessonae). The pool frog is extremely rare, with only a small reintroduced population in Norfolk. The frogspawn you’re most likely to see is that of the common frog. In spite of its name, the common frog is not necessarily common - in many areas of the countryside they have completely disappeared due to agricultural pesticides, draining of wetland habitats and filling-in of small ponds.
Credit: Tony Cox / WTML
Top tips for pond owners
Garden ponds are extremely important for common frogs, particularly in urban areas. To maximise your chances of frogspawn this spring, take a look at the following tips:
- Ensure that your pond is shaded and filled with appropriate pond plants, such as duckweed, water lilies, marsh marigolds and water violets, to create the perfect breeding ground for frogs.
- The area around the pond should also be a well-planted habitat to attract breeding frogs.
- Although frogs require shelter from heat, too many overhanging trees can be detrimental as ponds need direct sunlight to thrive.
- Shallow edges allow frogs to get in and out of ponds with ease.
- A depth of two to three feet is recommended.
- Don’t move frogspawn or tadpoles into a different pond. It may not have the right conditions for them to survive, and there is also the risk of spreading disease.
Credit: Bob Gibbons / Alamy Stock Photo
Record frogspawn on Nature’s Calendar
The Nature’s Calendar project tracks the effects of weather and climate change on wildlife across the UK – its records date all the way back to 1736! Frogspawn is just one of 69 wildlife events recorded for the project.
Join Nature’s Calendar to record your sightings - every record is crucial and valid. The data recorded helps us to better understand the effects of climate change and other patterns in the natural environment. By taking just a few minutes to share what you see, you'll be adding to hundreds of years' worth of important data for studies worldwide. We couldn't do this work without you! Why not give it a go yourself?