The Common Frog is a tailless, smooth skinned amphibian also known as the European Common (or Brown) Frog. They can vary greatly in colour most commonly greys and browns but can adapt the shade of their colour to match environment as well as some more unusual colours being displayed such as black, and even red frogs being found in Scotland. Albinos do occur with red eyes and a yellowish skin. The belly area is off white and speckled with males and pale yellow or orange in the females. They normally have brown markings which are most distinctive on the rear legs where they appear as strips, bands or chevrons. The Adult frog is up to 9cm long with short hind legs and of course webbed feet, they can be distinguished from Toads by the fact that on land they hop whereas a Toad will walk and they have a smooth wart free skin
In warmer climates common frogs are active all year round but in the UK where winters can be very cold with water and earth frozen they normally hibernate from the end of October until February (or later if weather is colder, such as in the Alps where they emerge in June). They seek refuge from the cold in piles of rotting leaves or mud at the bottom of ponds in muddy burrows. While in hibernation they can remain underwater for long periods breathing through their skin, once they emerge they often head for garden ponds which warm quickly and provide easy prey.
Breeding starts in March (or later in colder areas) the frogs gather in ponds and the males compete for females and conduct loud croaking as part of the courtship. During this period adults don’t tend to feed and the males develop ‘nuptial ‘pads on their thumbs which help them grasp the female during mating. The females then lay up to 4,000 eggs in clumps of about 400. It is important not to remove frog spawn from wild areas to put in garden ponds as this can spread diseases among the frog population. The young tadpoles are black at first but become speckled brown as they grow unlike common toad tadpoles which remain black.
The common Frog is very wide spread within Europe ranging from Scandinavia in the North to the Ural Mountains in the East. It is not so common or not found in Spain, Portugal, Southern Italy and the warmer areas of the Balkans as these are too arid an environment for the frog to thrive. It is the only frog found in Ireland but it is not thought to be a native species there but how and why it was introduced isn’t known
The prey of common frogs depends on how old they are, Tadpoles are mainly herbivores eating plants and algae and the occasional small animal.Young frogs feed on land or in the water but adults will only take prey while on land. Prey is made up of insects and invertebrates such as slugs and worms with flies being preferred caught by the frog’s long sticky tongue.