common European frog (Rana temporaria) It is easily the amphibian more recognizable. They are found throughout Europe, in almost any habitat where breeding ponds are nearby. They have smooth skin and long legs to jump quickly. Garden ponds are extremely important to common frogs, particularly in urban areas.

Picture of a common European frog

The common European frog is a common amphibian throughout Europe

Features

Adult males grow up to 9 cm in length and females up to 13 cm. Usually a shade of olive green or brown (although it can be gray or black). Dark spots on the back, stripes on the hind legs, and a dark mask behind the eye. Pupil oval, horizontal. Your call is considered a soft repetitive squawk.

This species of frog is sometimes confused with the common toad, however, the common European frog differs from the common toad by its smoother skin compared to the more warty skinned toads, and longer hind legs.

The hind legs of the common European frog are, however, short compared to other species of frogs. Another difference between the common European frog and the common toad is that the common European frog is larger. Finally, toads lack the dark spots behind the eye that are frequently seen in common frogs.

The loins and flanks vary in color, with olive green, gray-brown, brown, olive-brown, gray-yellow, and yellow. However, common frogs are known to be able to lighten and darken their skin to match their surroundings. It is also not unheard of for a more unusual coloration, both black and red individuals have been found in Scotland. In addition, common albino frogs with yellow skin and red eyes have been found.

The flanks, limbs and loins of common frogs are covered with irregular dark spots and usually have a spot on the back of the neck. Unlike other amphibians, common frogs generally lack a middle dorsal band and when they do have one, it is quite weak. Underbelly frogs are white or yellow (occasionally more orange in females) and may have brown or orange spots.

The common European frog has short hind legs, as mentioned above, and they have webbed feet. Its muzzle is rounded and its large black / brown eyes are speckled with brown. They have transparent horizontal pupils and have transparent inner lids to protect their eyes while underwater, as well as a "mask" that covers their eyes and eardrums.

Males can be distinguished from females by the hard swellings, called nuptial pads, on the first toe. The nuptial pads are used to grasp the females during mating. Males also possess paired vocal sacs, which females lack.

The frog cannot swallow so they 'push' their food down using their big eyes, this means they must close their eyes to swallow.

Behavior

The common European frog is active most of the year, hibernating only when it is very cold and the water and land are frozen. In the British Isles, they usually hibernate from late October to January. They will awaken as early as February, if conditions are right, and will migrate to bodies of water such as garden ponds.

Habitat

The common European frog is largely terrestrial outside of the breeding season and can be found in grasslands, gardens, and forests. They hibernate and breed in puddles, ponds, lakes and canals, muddy burrows and can also hibernate in layers of decomposing leaves and mud at the bottom of ponds. The fact that they can breathe through their skin allows them to stay underwater for much longer periods of time when they are hibernating.

Food

The adult common European frog feeds on any invertebrate of suitable size. Snails, slugs, worms, beetles, woodpeckers and flies are introduced into the mouth of frogs by their long tongue. The frog hunts / traps these animals by trapping them on their long sticky tongues. The diet of the frog changes significantly throughout their lives, the oldest ones feed only on the land, the younger ones also feed on the water. Tadpoles are mostly herbivores, feeding on algae, detritus (bodies of dead organisms), and some plants. They also eat other animals in small amounts. The common frog does not feed during the breeding season.

Reproduction

The frog is an amphibian animal and in most of Europe they begin to spawn in spring. During the mating season, the throats of the male frog turn bluish in color, they are generally light and grayish in color, and the female frog turns brownish or sometimes red. Adults congregate in ponds, where males compete for females. The courtship ritual consists of croaking and a successful male grabs the female under the front legs. Females, which are generally larger than males, lay up to 4000 eggs that float in large clusters. The gelatinous egg clumps are generally laid around March. Tadpoles that emerge from spawning generally take around 12 weeks to develop into tiny frogs. They need water to keep their skin moist, so they are normally found near water. In the wild, the common frog has a life span of around 8 years.

Predators

Both adult and young frogs face predation by birds, mammals, and reptiles.

The main avian predators include herons (Being one of his favorite foods), corvids (crows family), birds of prey, seagulls, owls, ducks and terns.

Mammalian predators come in the form of house cats, hedgehogs, foxes, badgers, rats, otters, stoats, weasels, and even shrews.

The grass snake is a major predator of the common frog, but the viper has also been known to take frogs as a food supplement.

Adult frogs use powerful hind legs to steer clear of predators, and their naturally slippery fur can help them escape. Adult frogs and toads also hide in undergrowth to avoid predators.

Rarely, and the adult common frog will emit a squeak of alarm when surprised by a predator. This squeak, not unlike a dog's toy, is often two-colored. A short squeak, immediately followed by a second, longer squeak that rises in pitch before falling to the pitch of the first. This is generally associated with a leap to freedom.

Tadpoles are vulnerable to dragonfly larvae, diving beetle larvae, ducks, fish, and especially newts. Young grass snakes can also be seen hunting tadpoles on the shores of ponds and lakes.

State of conservation

Listed as Least Concern (LC) in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a wide range of habitats, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for inclusion in a category most threatened.

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