Is frogspawn on the decline?

This is the time of year when the frogs and toads have been doing their thing, with frogspawn appearing in ponds, lakes and even puddles. One female frog can lay around 3,000 eggs, quite a feat – but out of that perhaps only five will survive. As they hatch, other creatures see a feast in front of them. Newts, water beetles, dragonfly nymphs, and ducks will eat them and if they hatch in a pond filled with goldfish, they don’t stand much of a chance once they become tadpoles. It may not be immediately obvious but common frogs and toads are under threat. Unfortunately, with increasingly intensified farming methods, wetlands being drained and the use of chemical sprays, their native habitat is disappearing. Add to this the fact that garden ponds are not as popular as they once were, with many being filled in, and it’s easy to see why these amphibians are disappearing quickly. In addition, there’s the effect of the highly infectious chytrid fungus. This appears to affect the skin tissue and cause problems with respiration and the uptake of water uptake. It affects adults although tadpoles can carry the disease. For some reason it seems to be even more of a problem for toads. Diseases like this, and Red Legs, are the reason why it’s not the best idea to move frogspawn from one pond to another. You may be moving disease into a perfectly healthy pond. For many of us, childhood memories include spotting frogspawn and bringing it home in a bucket to watch the tadpoles hatch. Although this wasn’t the best thing to do – and we certainly wouldn’t recommend it now – at least there was an abundance back then, enough to ensure the frog population survived. The best we can do to help now is to make sure that there are more habitats for frogs, toads – and newts. Just a small pond will attract them in time – although we’d advise against goldfish if you want to give our native amphibians a chance.

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