Questions I frequently get asked every year by customers visiting our nursery is “What is that noise,” or “What sort of birds are making that noise,” and to that I simply reply “oh, those are our Marsh Frogs”. During the breeding season, the Males become very loud and vocal and will happily carry on croaking and chuckling all day and night with the slightest of vibrations setting them off. Our nursery is situated close to Gatwick airport so each time a plane flies over, hundreds of frogs who happen to be taking a 5 minute rest, restart their vocal chat. They do this by inflating vocal membrane sacs which are on located on the side of their heads like balloons. If you have ever been to a Greek island and are familiar with, and like the constant noise of Cicadas, then you may enjoy the constant sound of Marsh frogs
Latin name Rana Ridibunda, Marsh frogs are the largest European frog and can grow to a length of 100-120 mm. They were first introduced in Walland Marsh in 1935 and have been incredibly successful, having very few predators. They can live up to 11 years and it is still not known yet, quite what impact they will have on our own native wildlife here in the UK. Taking into consideration that they breed over and over again from May until July, laying 200 or 300 eggs at a time, and up to 16000 eggs in one season, it comes as no surprise that they have colonized the South of England already and at an alarming rate. The problem is, that part of their diet is Our Own Native Frogs! It’s already starting to prove in some areas to be one of Mans big introductory mistakes, much the same as introducing the grey Squirrel was, so it’s not surprising that it is now illegal, under the Wildlife and countryside act of 1981, to breed them in captivity and or release them.
They prefer large expanses of brackish water, and are very adaptable breeding happily in almost any size garden pond. Marsh Frog tadpoles can grow 3-4 times the size of our Native frogs, over-wintering and hibernating along with the adults at the bottom of ponds. Metamorphous can take up to 2 years, with the frog let’s emerging 1-1.25 cm in length. Unlike our Native frogs that leave the water after spawning, Marsh frogs constantly live in and around water, sunbathing on grassy banks for hours at a time. It’s quite an amazing site to hear and see dozens of frogs leaping off the grassy banks and plopping into the water as you approach them, whilst out walking on a hot summer’s day.
Love them or hate them! Personally I love them; Marsh frogs are here to stay!
For many more interesting articles on all pond and water garden wildlife, please visit my website www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk