Frogspawn and tadpoles
in our wildlife garden pond
on the pictures to see a larger view
Three weeks after being laid the frogspawn is starting
to develop into tadpoles. Although it may not be obvious in
this small picture, the black dot inside the frogspawn jelly
is now elongating into a tadpole shape. The weather in this
part of Lancashire is often cold, and some mornings recently
the pond has been frozen. Cold weather can cause the frogspawn
to go milky white and kill it. See the FAQ
At four weeks there is a definite tadpole shape now,
but the cold spring is hampering development. Some web sites
claim that frogspawn takes only 10 days to develop into tadpoles.
Not in the North West of England, it doesn't, and particularly
if your garden is like ours and is more than 800 feet above
Now five weeks old and much of the frogspawn now looks
like miniature eels, clearly visible on top of the jelly.
This the next development stage, the change into true tadpoles,
complete with wiggling tail, and yes, it's still cold!
Update - The following year the warm weather meant that
the tadpoles reached this stage a full two weeks earlier
than in the previous year.
It's now seven weeks since the frogspawn
was laid and we have thousands of 'proper' tadpoles.
If only a small proportion of them develop into adult
frogs, the slugs had better watch out!
Update - Although the weather is warmer, and
the tadpoles hatched earlier, this year's tadpoles are
at this stage. Nature seems to have a way of evening
15th June - Disaster strikes! A 'flash flood' (the
heaviest sustained spell of rain in the area for 20 years
- and it rains a lot in Lancashire!) caused the pond to overflow
into the surrounding garden with the loss of many tadpoles
who seemed intent on making a bid for freedom instead of staying
in the deep water of the pond. I scooped up as many as I could
with a tablespoon! I also cleaned the pump filter and found
that many had sneaked through the thin plastic grille of the
pump housing and died. No wonder frogs lay so much frogspawn.
I have replaced the pump's inbuilt sponge filter with a Rotorflush
external filter. This has a fine wire mesh to avoid a
recurrence and minimizes pump maintenance. I have also installed
a controlled overflow pipe to the pond. This is fitted with
a fine gauze to prevent siphoning out the tadpoles as well
and it should cope with future storms.
14th June (the following year) Ironically, almost
a year to the day we had another 'flash flood'. This time
there was no scooping up of tadpoles from the garden, so the
controlled overflow system was obviously effective. The tadpoles
are still small; not even any legs yet. The weather has been
terrible for the whole of May and the first half of June.
Rain almost every day, overcast skies and consequently no
sun to warm the water in the pond.
28th July Tiny froglets were
seen in and around the pond. The frogspawn was laid on 4th
March, so it has taken a long time to get to this stage, certainly
much longer then the text books say!
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