Common Pond Frogs

Bullfrog and Common pond frogs | Natural Pond Lover
A bullfrog sitting on a lilly pad

Frogs are good for ponds and the environment. They eat many insects that we consider pests and are a good indication of the state of the environment around them. Amphibians such as frogs don’t do well in polluted bodies of water. Air pollution also affects frogs and other amphibians negatively.

Bullfrog

The classic American bullfrog is probably the hardiest species of common pond frogs. Personally, I love to hear bullfrogs croaking as I’m falling asleep at night. Bullfrogs are very dependent on the body of water in which they live. However, as the sun sets and dusk falls, they climb out of the pond and begin stalking prey such as spiders, cockroaches, and palmetto bugs. They’re the best natural pest control you can get.

Bullfrog tadpoles can take up to two years to metamorphose into adults. Sometimes they only take a single season. Similar to water dogs (the larvae stage of the tiger salamander), they decide when they’ll change and turn their gills in for a pair of lungs. Environmental factors play a role in this as well.

While I like having bullfrogs around, there’re some pond owners who view them as pests. A bullfrog will attempt to eat anything that moves and can fit in its mouth. While they’re great for controlling bugs that I consider pests, they might also eat each other, other kinds of frogs, fish, baby turtles, small birds, lizards, and even small snakes. They are predators, after all.

Cuban Tree Frog | Natural Pond Lover
The invasive Cuban tree frog lays its eggs in freshwater ponds.

The Bullfrog dilemma

For myself, isn’t a problem. I enjoy the impressive sizes they attain. If they occasionally take a fish, that’s life. It’s really a matter of taste and what animals you prefer having around. Some people enjoy the different birds which natural ponds attract. Yes, bird lovers, ponds attract birds big-time. Birds aren’t really my thing.

Frog | Natural Pond Lover
A young frog waiting out a rain storm.

I like the dragonflies a pond attracts much more. Birds also prey upon pond frogs and fish. Those who don’t care for the nightly “air-raid siren”, or predatory habits of the bullfrog may prefer smaller species of common pond frogs. Some prime examples are the leopard frog and green frog. Both are common and easy to find.

Leopard frogs

Here’s my leopard frog story. A few years ago, I bought a half-dozen adult leopard frogs for a total of $90 including shipping (common pond frogs are not always cheap). I released them into the pond only for them to immediately jump out of the water.

They quickly retreated into the woods and I never saw any of them again. It’s best to add tadpoles to your pond as opposed to full-grown frogs. There’s no guarantee they will all stay in any pond once they turn into frogs, but the odds are better than adding full-grown ones.

Finding tadpoles

Tadpoles can be collected from ponds, lakes, swamps, rivers and sometimes streams. They’re also readily available online. Bullfrog tadpoles are available all year while other species are only available during the months of spring.

I bought some off eBay during the months of May and June. The sellers collect tadpoles from their own pond and offer them for sale on eBay. At first, I was afraid they would run out of oxygen during transit, especially when one delayed shipment of tadpoles sat in a hot truck for an extra day. To my surprise, all arrived alive and well. Now I have at least four species of common pond frogs in my pond off the patio.

Common pond frogs lack fingernails and toenails. They have nothing else sharp that could damage the pond liner. That’s another plus in my book. Frogs do like to burrow through. They wedge themselves into the side of the pond embankment at the waterline. I don’t see this as a problem and a female bullfrog insists on hiding under the flagstone of my overflow. She tends to push out the river pebbles that are hiding the liner. That’s annoying. Once a week I usually have to replace the river pebbles in a small area.

Common pond frogs | Natural Pond Lover
A bullfrog blending in with its surroundings.

African clawed frogs

I warn you not to add African clawed frogs to your pond. These frogs are easily obtained from most local pet stores. Highly aggressive, these predators clean your pond out faster than you can imagine. Not surprisingly, they reproduce like crazy. It’s illegal to release these frogs in many states, even if it’s on your own property.

If you live close to a body of water there’s a chance they may infest them too. Especially after an extended period of rain. There was an incident in San Francisco where someone released African clawed frogs in a small pond which they completely took it over. City officials drained the pond at least two times to rectify the problem. I’m not sure if it was successful, or if the frogs are still found there today.

This is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t add African clawed frogs to your pond. They’re also sometimes sold as African dwarf frogs. As a general rule, any animal originating from Africa or South America has the potential to hurt the ecosystem of your pond. You have to remember animals that originate from the Congo come from many different environmental conditions. They’ll have greater food sources and be hardier with no natural predators to keep them in check.

Toads

If you’re in a rural, or semi-rural area, it is likely that toads will pay your pond a visit. Your specific location decides what species stop by. Toads don’t drink water through their mouth. Instead, they absorb it through their skin. Usually, the morning dew produces enough moisture to keeps toads properly hydrated.

Toads | Natural Pond Lover

During drier periods such as drought, toads may soak in your pond from time to time. This will most likely occur at night. Toads aren’t particularly fond of direct sunlight. It dries them out too quickly.

Toads are noisy neighbors during the spring

The most likely time that you’ll know toads are around your pond is during spring, especially after heavy rain. This is when toads return to the water to mate. Pictured above is a pair of toads mating in my pond off the patio. They lay their eggs in the water. A few days later, thousands of tiny tadpoles are swimming around the pond.

Depending on how many breeding pairs make it to the water decides their numbers. Numbers can range from hundreds to thousands. How many that actually make it past the tadpole stage is dependent on the predators living in your pond. Interestingly, it seems toad eggs are laid coated with an irritant that keeps fish from eating them.

Common Pond Frogs