How does frogspawn cope with the cold weather?

There have been a lot of enquiries about frogspawn recently with people saying they haven’t seen any this year and wondering whether the frogs may be laying later because of the cold weather. Frogspawn is generally laid from January through to March and will take between one and three weeks to hatch. I saw frogspawn on the reserve back at the beginning of March but unfortunately with the cold weather we had, the pond froze over and the frogspawn perished.

Toad with toadspawn and frogspawn in the background © Linda Pitkin2020VISION
Toad with toadspawn and frogspawn in the background © Linda Pitkin2020VISION

Frogspawn can usually cope with a bit of cold weather, if a pond freezes, often the top layer of spawn closest to the surface will freeze but below the surface it will survive. However if it really cold, the water will be frozen for longer, depriving the frogspawn of much needed oxygen. What can be difficult for frogs (and other wildlife) is when we have ‘random’ cold weather events that seem to come out of nowhere. One week it may be quite warm and the next week it could be below freezing. This is different from continuous cold spells of weather which the frogs can take into account and then decide to lay spawn later.

It is tempting to want to move spawn into a larger pond and/or deeper pond or water body however, it is really important not to move spawn or tadpoles. Moving them can spread non-native plant species and amphibian diseases. Ponds that already have spawn may not be able to support an increased population. Also, if a pond doesn’t already have spawn, then it is unlikely that it would be suitable for frogs. If it was suitable then it would already have some. A common explanation of why a pond may not have frogs is because it might have newts instead! If you would like to find out more about frogs and other amphibians, the Froglife website (www.froglife.org) is excellent and they often run free training courses.

Laura Preston, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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There have been a lot of enquiries about frogspawn recently with people saying they haven’t seen any this year and wondering whether the frogs may be laying later because of …

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