Photos: Adults, frog spawn, tadpoles and froglets discovered in back garden pond and back garden, South Staffordshire. © Peter Hillman.
Rana from Latin ‘a frog’; temporaria from Latin ‘temporary’, perhaps referring to the frogs appearing at ponds in the spring and then disappearing until the following spring. The male is usually smaller and darker than the female, and it has a black nuptial pad on its first finger. Its colouration is variable, but it is usually greenish brown or olive-buff with dark blotches.
The Common Frog is known to be able to lighten or darken its skin depending on its surroundings. With the ability to breathe through its skins, it helps enable it to hibernate for several months beneath mud and piles of dead leaves underwater. The hind feet are fully webbed, and it can jump up to half a metre in a single hop.
The female lays up to 4,000 eggs in shallow water surrounded by transparent jelly. Tadpoles hatch about 2 to 4 weeks later. By the time they are 3 months old they have developed arms and legs and are adapted to living on land. The adult Common Frog eats insects, especially flies, slugs and snails, and other invertebrates, although it doesn’t feed during the mating season. The tadpoles feed on algae, scraping it from rocks or stones, and surrounding vegetation. It can live for up to 8 years.
Size: Length 60-90 mm.
When seen: March to November.
Habitat: Found in freshwater habitats like ponds and open woods, but needs slow-moving water. Mating pairs and masses of frog spawn are a common sight in most ponds.
Status & distribution: A common and widespread species, and native to Britain.
Class: Amphibia (Amphibians)
Order: Anura (Frogs & toads)
Family: Ranidae (True frogs)
Species: Rana temporaria Linnaeus, 1758