Quick facts

Common name: common frog

Scientific name: Rana temporaria

Family: Ranidae (frogs)

Habitat: garden ponds, lakes, woodland, grassland, hedgerows, gardens

Diet: flies, worms, slugs and snails

Predators: herons, foxes, otters, snakes, birds of prey, domestic cats

Origin: native

What do common frogs look like?

The common frog’s colour can vary considerably – most are brown, olive green or grey, but red and yellow individuals also occur. They measure around 8–13cm in length and weigh approximately 22g. Females are larger than males.

Adult frogs are slender in appearance and have smooth skin with dark patches, long, stripey hind legs, webbed feet and a dark band around the eyes. They are able to adapt their skin colour to blend in with their surroundings.

Tadpoles are brown in colour to begin with, gradually becoming speckled with gold as they develop.

What do common frogs eat?

Common frogs are carnivorous and survive on a diet of invertebrates, such as flies, worms, snails and slugs, although they have been known to eat smaller amphibians. They use their long, sticky tongue to catch their prey. Their tadpoles feed on algae in the water.

Did you know...

Frogspawn is made up of approximately 99.7% water.

How do common frogs breed?

The breeding season for common frogs begins in early spring, when they venture to ponds and lakes to mate. Male frogs croak to attract a mate and to compete against other nearby males. When the male has selected a mate, it uses swollen nuptial pads on its forelegs to grasp the female, in a mating behaviour known as ‘amplexus’.

Eggs are laid in clusters of spawn in shallow water. The eggs are small and black, encased in clear jelly. Up to 2,000 can be laid in a single clump. After around three weeks (depending on the weather) young tadpoles emerge. The tadpoles take up to 16 weeks to grow into froglets, losing their tails and growing legs.

Credit: Margaret Welby / Alamy Stock Photo

How do common frogs hibernate?

During the winter months, common frogs spend their time resting in the mud at the bottom of ponds, under piles of logs or in compost heaps. They may still venture out on warmer days in search of food.

Credit: Ian West / Alamy Stock Photo

Where do common frogs live?

As the name suggests, common frogs are widespread throughout the UK. They are usually found near garden ponds and lakes during spring time, and in gardens, meadows and woodland throughout the remainder of the year.

Signs and spotting tips

The best time of year to see common frogs is during the spring, when they journey to ponds and lakes in order to breed. Listen carefully for their deep, purring croak and look out for clumps of frogspawn in ponds – a sure sign that frogs are nearby.

Spotted frogspawn?

Frogspawn is a sign that spring is on the way. Find out how your sighting could help scientists track the effects of climate change on wildlife.

Nature's Calendar
Did you know?

Frogs can breathe through their skin as well as when using their lungs. 

Threats and conservation

Although still prevalent throughout the UK, common frog numbers have declined in recent years. Loss of breeding habitat is a big factor, with an increasing number of ponds being filled for development. The species is also frequently killed on the road when travelling to breeding sites. Disease is another contributing factor to their decline.

You can help common frogs out by creating a pond in your garden to provide them with the ideal place to breed.