Biological Control · Food Garden · Pest Control · Profile

Amphibians – Garden Critter of the Month

Toads & Frogs at a glance
Occupation:
Predator
Value to Gardener:
4/5 – Pest Controller!
Danger to Humans:
0/5 – None
Availability:
4/5 – They’ll arrive or you can buy some

 

Animal-Amphibian-like-Bull-frog vintage printable
African Bull Frogs
Pyxicephalus adspersus

 

Quick Intro

Just a short post our regular garden inhabitant and cricket-controller. Amphibians include three lineages: salamanders, frogs & toads, and caecilians. They all share the characteristic moist skin and mostly four well developed limbs. They are generally predators that prey on an assortment of insects and small vertebrates (mice and snakes). I will be focusing on Toads and Frogs, as they more common in gardens.


Science Stuff

Amphibians have four limbs (some salamanders and caecilians are limbless). All have moist scale less skin that is permeable to both gases and water. The skin contains many mucus glands to keep it moist and thus the skin is termed glandular. The skin allows cutaneous respiration, but this is generally passive. Compounds, such as sodium is actively transported through the skin – this regulates water uptake by terrestrial species. Most of their breathing is done by the gills (larvae) or lungs (adults). Amphibians can be both terrestrial and aquatic.

 

Salamaders (Urodeles) have similar body forms as lizards do, but with stumpy noses and long tails. The aquatic salamanders are generally limbless. They either live in water bodies (lakes or rivers) or in caves. They catch their prey as frogs do, with a long sticky tongue. They are distributed throughout America, Europe and Asia, but not in Africa or Australia.

 

Salamander Wikipedia, Scott Camazine
Salamander
Photo: Wikipedia, Scott Camazine

 

Toads and frogs (Anurans) have stocky bodies and well developed limbs. Frogs have smooth skin, webbed feet, long slender hind legs (for swimming & jumping) and bulging eyes – they are generally aquatic. Toads have warty skin, robust bodies with stocky strong legs (for walking) and the characteristic large and easily seen parotid gland.

Frog vs Toad morphology difference

 

Caecillians (Gymnophionans) are strange creatures that look like slimy snakes or huge earthworms. Terrestrial species hide underground and aquatic species are cave-dwelling. Their body form is adapted for burrowing (terrestrial, not necessarily blind) or living underwater (external feathery gills and nearly blind).

 

Caecilian, Wikipedia Dawson
Caecilian
Photo: Wikipedia, Dawson


Habitat

Frogs are mostly water-bound and will live happily in a pond, especially a pond with different water levels, some reeds, that kind of stuff. Although toads are terrestrial, they are still confined to moist microclimates (such as thick vegetation or in a pot that gets water daily 😹).

 

Diet

This be all little things that crawl, bite and creep at night. The problem is that it includes good and bad insects, but I have seen that my mantis stay clear of Fred (the residential garden toad(s)).

 

NB! Global decline of Frogs & Toads

 

Caution_Frog_Sign
Caution Frogs Ahead!

Globally amphibians are suffering from extinctions and population collapse resulting in many species being placed on the Red List of Endangered/Threatened species. This is due to us reducing and intruding onto their homes – most populations are reduced by habitat loss, air and water pollution, and vehicular homicide! Yes, we drive over so many frogs and toads that this is more of an issue than any pesticide you use in your garden! That is why I make emergency stops when a toad hops in front of my car – note, I am still safe about this, won’t go causing accidents or anything 😺

 

 

Red Toad Schismaderma carens 2
Fred, the Red Toad in the bucket after rain
Schismaderma carens

 

So please mind the frogs and toads – I am so happy to see all the Freds moving into the garden every year – new babies appear every season and use the garden as a nursery! Maybe one is prince charming…

 

Frog Prince Fairy Tale

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One thought on “Amphibians – Garden Critter of the Month

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