Want to create your own frog friendly garden?
To create your own frog friendly garden there are a few simple things you need to remember. Frogs require a pond for breeding, lots of invertebrates for food and shelter during summer. The pond should have areas of shade and open sunny spots. Tadpoles choose the temperature that they prefer and this varies with time of day and season. Your pond should vary in depth, ranging from shallow with lots of emergent vegetation (stuff that grows out of the water) and more open and deeper sections. Open, sunny areas promote algal growth on which the tadpoles feed. Did you know tadpoles are vegetarian? Shallow areas provide sites for the male to call and lay eggs. Avoid using floating plants like 'duck weed' or Azolla as these can reduce oxygen levels as well as blocking out light needed for algal growth.
To ensure your pond stays as healthy as possible try to use indigenous species of aquatic plants available from your local indigenous nursery. Ground cover is very important for adult frogs; logs, rocks, leaf litter, tussock grasses and low growing plants give great protection from the sun and predators. Adult frogs are very mobile, so many areas within a garden can be made 'frog friendly'.
Never put exotic fish species in your pond. Goldfish muddy the water; eating plants, frog eggs and tadpoles. In particular the introduced 'Mosquito fish' or Gambusia 'Gambusia affinis' is the fish version of the 'Cane Toad' and will eat all the tadpoles in a pond. Never release this or any other fish into any waterways (creeks, river, lake, wetlands etc.) they eat any animals they can fit in their mouths. They also attack larger fish and nibble their fins, which can cause infections that eventually kill the fish.
Cats will hunt and catch frogs, so providing lots of ground cover will reduce their impact.
Many species of frogs exhibit significant regional differences. For this reason it is strongly recommended that you do not move frogs to other areas without seeking expert advice. The Wildlife Act 1975 protects all wildlife, including frogs, tadpoles and eggs. This means you can't pick up frogs or frog spawn and deposit them in your garden. The conditions in your garden may not suitable and they may die. If you take the time to create the right conditions the frogs will find your garden; many frogs travel long distances in the cool of the night to find new breeding sites.
Herbicides and frogs
There is still some debate about what impact chemicals used to control plants have on frogs and tadpoles. Whatever the outcome some basic rules apply to reduce any possible impacts.
- Do not spray plants which are close to or in water, try to pull it up instead. If you must spray to control plants close to water wait until the water level drops during summer to avoid the risk of contamination.
- Use brands of herbicide which are designed to have a reduced impact on wildlife.
- Do not wash out containers of old herbicides into storm water drains - contact your local council for disposal.
To get you started the La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary has brochures available on 'How to build a frog bog' and a list of frog friendly indigenous plants for the Melbourne (Australia) area. Contact us and we will send you this information. For all other areas your local indigenous plant nursery will be able to assist with plants and advice.