Frogs and Toads

Frog face  ©Janet AllenOne of our green frogs

We've always had toads (though not as many as we have now), but for a few years we also had green frogs, and one year we had a single spring peeper.

Here are our experiences with amphibians' habitat basics:

Our ponds take care of their water needs.


Toad on skimmer ©Janet AllenToad on the pond skimmer

Toads are a type of frog—a lumpy frog.

I always think of the Arnold Lobel children's books about Frog and Toad when I see these creatures in my yard. Toads look very curmudgeon-y.

Young toad  ©Janet Allen
A young toad (with a paperclip to indicate size)

We've seen toads mating and have followed their life cycle ever since we built our pond in 2002. That's a lot of toads! (Here's our record of when they starting singing each year.)

Apparently most toads live only a year or two in the wild, though they're capable of living ten years or more. We hope we have a safe enough environment for them to live more than just a few years.

We enjoy seeing the different generations of toads in our yard each here, though they aren't around much in the daytime. The one in the photo is probably a second year toad and most likely is one of the toads that grew from an egg laid in our pond.

Toad on lily pad  ©Janet Allen
Yes, they do sit on lily pads!

We would love to know how many toads are in our yard, but I know of no way to determine that. I believe we have a very toad-friendly yard, and so I hope we have a lot.

You can never have too many toads. As they say, "If you have too many slugs and other creatures eating your plants, you don't really have too many slugs. You have too few toads!"

toad ©Janet AllenToad

Here's a variation on our usual American Toad that appeared in our yard.

According to Fred Schueler, director of the Bishops Mills Natural History Centre in Ontario, "It's a northern-looking American Toad. 300 km north of here it would be unexceptional, and I imagine there are places in the Adirondacks where it would also be unexceptional. Toads and many other species tend towards a more contrasting red/brown/white pattern to the north, to match the colour of the vegetation and to be more contrasting when they're viewed by predators in daylight."


Frogs on moss(Enlarge) ©Janet Allen
Frogs sitting in their favorite place, on some mossy thyme. Can you find all 5 frogs?

Unlike most people's experience when they add a pond, we built it, but they didn't come. After a few years with no frogs, a friend brought young frogs that had taken up residence in his swimming pool.

I've heard that it's not a good idea to remove frogs from their home, but these young frogs would have been killed by the soon-to-be-added chlorine.

Frog sitting  ©Janet Allen
A green frog surveying his territory

Many stayed in our pond, but some did go off to seek their fortune: probably certain death on the roads since there are no other suitable places for them around here.

We'd never buy the tadpoles sold in stores. I wouldn't trust that they'd be locally-appropriate, native species. Non-native species could create just one more problem for the world.

Green frog on a lilypad  ©Janet Allen
Green frogs like lily pads, too

Our first batch of donated frogs laid eggs the following year, and the tadpoles overwintered. This went on for three or four years. They were nice to have since they were usually visible during the day, unlike toads which we see only during mating season and occasionally around the yard. Toads are there, but they're hiding away, sleeping.

Unfortunately, a severe winter killed all the frogs. Our pond (less than 24" deep) is just not deep enough for them to successfully hibernate in a severe winter. Toads, on the other hand, hibernate in the soil, and since we have so much exposed soil (i.e. not turf grass), they have been much more successful.

Frogs ©Janet AllenFrogs

Getting ready to mate. Two of them later succeeded, resulting in many tadpoles that year.

Here's more about our experiences with green frogs raising their young.

Spring Peeper

Having a spring peeper was an experience. We never saw it, which is usually the case since they're tiny, but we certainly heard it! In fact, the whole neighborhood heard it. We went on a walk to see how far away we could hear it: many blocks away.

So far, that has been a one-time experience, one that I miss. I'd welcome its return, but it is certainly much quieter without it!