Country Living (UK)

wild wonder



IT MAY BE COLD OUTSIDE but, across the country, ponds and waterways are quietly springing into life. Look carefully among the reeds or at the water’s edge and you could be rewarded with the sight of glistening frogspawn lying just below the surface.

While toads create long strings of eggs that drape over pond plants, frogs lay their jelly-like clutch in big clusters. Over the coming weeks, the tiny black dots at the centre of each egg will transform into wriggling comma shapes before emerging as tiny tadpoles. Once they have hatched, it takes around 14 weeks for the astounding metamorpho­sis to take place. The tadpole’s tail shrinks and its body becomes less rounded; its legs grow; lungs and eardrums develop; and, finally, it transforms into a froglet that can leave the pond. Incredibly, it’s a process that tadpoles can control; slowing it down if the weather is too cold or speeding it up if threatened by a pond full of predators.

Although it’s fascinatin­g to observe, especially for children, frogspawn needs very specific conditions and care, so, unless you have a Field Studies Council chart (details below), it’s best to watch it in the pond rather than taking it home.

The FSC Keeping Frog Tadpoles chart is available at

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