Frog Facts - The common frog

picture of a frog

Here are some frog facts about The common frog, or grass frog (rana temporaria. It can breathe through its skin. Because of this the frog is able to hibernate for months on end (well a few months!) in piles of rotting leaves and mud. I have had an incident when clearing my allotment and have put my spade into a pile of mud (luckily - gently) and have come across a whole bunch of frogs hibernating in the soil!

Frog Facts... There are 3 subspecies of the common frog:

  • R.t. temporaria
  • R.t. honnorati (found at the base of the Alps)
  • R.t. parvipalmata (north west Spain and Pyrenees)

    Frog lifespan? The common frog has a lifespan of approximately 7 - 8 years.

    Anatomy of frog: The common frog has a rather robust body with shortish-hind limbs and webbed fet. As is normal for frogs, the male frog tends to be smaller than the female, and has bluish-black nuptial pads on their first fingers. (Nuptial pads are areas of swelling).

    The nuptial pads become more noticeable during mating season, when they tend to swell a little more than usual. This helps the male frog hold the female frog.

    Frog facts...

    The common frog has smooth skin that can vary in colour from grey, olive green, yellow, and brown. It is covered with blotchy darker patches. They have dark 'masks' covering their eyes and eardrums and often have barred markings on their limbs and flanks.

    Underneath they are usually white or yellow and sometimes even orange in the females, and can be speckled brown or orange. There have been a number of albino common frogs found that have yellow skin and red eyes. Common frogs can have the ability to match their colouring to their environment. They have transparent inner eyelids to protect their eyes whilst they are underwater.

    The common frog lives mainly on land during the breeding season, and can be found in meadows, gardens and woodland. They breed in ponds, even puddles, lakes and canals. They prefer areas of shallow water.

    During the breeding season they do not eat at all, but when active will eat any moving invertebrate such as flies, insects, snails, slugs and worms. They catch their prey with their long sticky tongues. Frog facts...

    The common frog tends to be more active at night, though it is also around during the day. They are sexually mature at around 3 years old. During February and March they emerge from hibernation and make the journey to the chosen breeding ground. They have been known to return to the same breeding ground year after year.

    Frog facts... The common frog is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

    Male frogs make a rather low and purring croak during breeding season.

    During the breeding and mating season, the common frog has been known to return to its original place where it developed from spawn into an adult frog. The male frogs usually reach the breeding grounds before the females, and they attempt the attract a female frog by making a low purring croaking sound.

    When a male frog successfully attracts a female companion, it will wrap its forelimbs around the female in an embrace known as amplexus.

    The female will usually lay between 1000 - 4000 eggs and as these eggs are released by the female frog, they are fertilised by the male. They prefer to lay their eggs in shallow, still water.

    The frogspawn floats on the water and is surrounded by a jelly-like substance that swells in the water and protects the little embryos. The sun gradually warms up the frogspawn and after a period of about 35 days, little tadpoles begin to emerge from the frogspawn. The tadpoles eat this spawn, and after a period of about 25 days they will then start to eat algae.

    As the tadpole changes from a tadpole to a frog, it goes through a transition stage called metamorphosis These stage happens at around 12 weeks. The tadpoles that make it to adulthood, are extremely fortunate. Tadpoles and spawn are very vulnerable to predators such as fish and birds and even frogs. In fact, only about 5 out of every 2000 tadpoles will make it to adulthood.

    When a tadpole is first born it has gills that enable it to breathe under water. At around 9 weeks, it loses its gills and develops lungs, which in turn forces the tadpole on to the surface of the water to breathe.

    As they grow they start to eat insects and plants. Hind legs start to grow between 6 and 9 weeks, and then at approximately 11 weeks the front legs are fully formed.

    By about 12 weeks the tail has completely disappeared as it is absorbed by the rapidly-growing tadpole. We are then left with a little froglet. The froglet is able to hide in the grass and hide itself better from predators.

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