Frogs and Toads

Frogs and Toads are both amphibians but they have a number of differences, not only physically but also in their living habits.Frogs are smooth skinned, slim and have shiny skin that always look wet.  They tend to have more of a pointy head and longer legs which they use to hop.Toads are darker in colour and have rough, bumpy, dry skin.  They are heavier in build, have wider heads and short legs. Due to their heavy build and short legs they are not as athletic as frogs and tend to crawl rather than hop.

(Rana temporaria)

(Bufo bufo)

Frogs tend to spend more time in the water as their skin can dry out, whereas toads can cope much better with dry conditions so tend to spend more time on land.

Frog and Toad spawn is distinctively different, frogs will lay their spawn in large clumps, while toad spawn is in strings.  See diagram below (Frog left, Toad right)

Frogs and toads go through the same life cycle, after laying their eggs, the tadpoles emerge two to four weeks later and then it takes around 4 months for them to develop their legs, back first and then the front.  

They absorb their tails and then during late summer will leave the water as developed Froglets or Toadlets.

Frog Tadpole

Toad Tadpole


Frog tadpoles are lighter in colour to toad tadpoles which are black.  During the tadpole stage frogs and toads are herbivores and will feed on algae and soft plants.  As the tadpoles mature they turn into omnivores and will seek out dead insects as well as small aquatic insects such as water fleas or mosquitoes.  

Once developed into frogs they will turn almost exclusively carnivorous and hunt for slugs, worms, flies and other insects.

Once frogs and toads are fully developed they will hopefully make the surrounding area their home, make sure you leave an area close to the pond a little unkempt with log piles, leaf mounds or a compost heap.

Leave some vegetation uncut so the area remains damp.  In return for this kindness your new residents will patrol your garden and vegetable patch, eating slugs, worms and insects.

As summer ends and autumn begins they both start preparing for winter, suitable places will be found for hibernation, at this time Toads might return to their place of birth, which could be far from your pond.

Both will shelter for winter, if the weather is particularly mild over the winter period you may see a frog or a toad that has emerged to look for food.

Frogs and Toads in Your Garden

As frogs tend to spawn earlier than toads, they are more prone to be hit by frosts.  Any eggs hit by frost will die, if you decide to remove some spawn from the pond to protect it, do so with some of the original pond water, keep it somewhere frost-proof but not too warm and gently return it to the original pond as soon as possible.

As Toads spawn later they are not so affected by this issue.Your pond should naturally have enough food but if it is new or has recently been cleaned you could add small amounts of fish food (suitable for cold water fish) or some boiled soft greens, such as lettuce or spinach for tadpoles.

Be careful not to add too much food as you do not want to encourage algae blooms.

Do not move frog and toad spawn from one pond to another, doing this can help to spread amphibian disease and non native plant life.