How to Help Frogs and Toads in Your Garden this Spring
With the arrival of spring comes the welcome emergence of frogs and toads from their winter cover - keep your ears open and you might soon hear them croaking in the spring sunshine and on mild evenings.
The amphibians will respond to the warmer conditions by leaving the log piles, stones and sheds they have called home for the past few months and returning to their breeding ponds to mate and spawn.
This is determined by location - if you're in the south, you're more likely to witness this phenomenon earlier than in the north, where frosty mornings and chillier days are probably still the norm. However, it won't be long before the breeding season starts even at higher latitudes and you'll be able to watch the tiny creatures happily splashing around in your ponds.
Sometimes dozens and dozens of frogs in particular will return to their favourite watering holes, leaving onlookers bewildered as the ponds appear full to bursting - and then topped up with spawn too. Actually though, this is normal and most will disperse, leaving just the native residents to stay with you for the summer - they're not overcrowded, no matter how it might look!
Frogs and toads you might see
The most likely species to spot this spring is the common frog, which can range in colour from brown to a really bright green. They have smooth skin, jump surprisingly far and lay their spawn in large clumps.
You might also be fortunate enough to see the common toad, which has brown, uneven skin and shorter back legs, so will crawl rather than hop as a result. Try to look past their wartiness, as toads have the most beautiful amber eyes and really are entrancing in their own way.
How to attract frogs and toads to your garden
It's well worth trying to attract amphibians to your own patch of land, as they will prey on all the slugs and snails that consume your plants, as well as the irritating midges that summer brings. It's also quite easy too, with many of the tips similar to those we've mentioned before for attracting other wildlife.
However, one extra feature you'll need is a pond - a water feature will do if you haven't got the space. Frogs and toads need these to breed, so you'll be providing a vital part of their habitat if you add water to your garden.
Ensure one side slopes up so they can climb out, as amphibians are vulnerable to spaces with steep sides. We have special Frog Ramps here at CJ Wildlife if you need help with this.
Also, provide cover such as water-based plants and rocks for them to hide from birds like herons under and to bask on during warmer days.
Elsewhere in the garden, try to keep one area wild and unmowed so the creatures can pass from their pond to other parts of the garden unnoticed by predators - we'd recommend this as a good idea for other wildlife anyway.
Avoid chemicals and pesticides wherever possible and provide refuges such as log piles and compost heaps where they can enjoy damp conditions as the weather heats up. Our Frog and Toad House will be a welcome hidey-hole and may also be chosen by your visitors as somewhere to hibernate when next winter comes.
Finally, another good tip is to avoid having your garden completely enclosed if you can. Obviously, you don't want gaps in your fences so large that next door's pets and children can come wandering through, but small passageways will be invaluable for frogs, toads and even hedgehogs when it comes to moving from place to place, especially in spring when amphibians are making the journey back to breeding ponds.
Try including tiny gaps of just a few inches in one or two panels and see if it makes a difference to the wildlife you spot in your garden. You could perhaps use sections of plastic pipe or customised plumbing features to make these wildlife tunnels so they're reinforced and sturdy.
Do let us know how you get on - and send us any pictures of your garden frogs and toads enjoying the spring.
CJ Wildlife are proud to be working in partnership with Froglife, the reptile and amphibian charity. The Froglife Trust's vision is simple: they want to see a world in which reptiles and amphibians flourish as part of healthy ecosystems and we look forward to supporting them with their conservation and awareness projects. For more information on Froglife's work please click here.