What is an amphibian? A guide to garden amphibians

Common frog peeping through dandelion leaves
Frogs are amphibians, but just what is an amphibian? (Photo: northeastwildlife.co.uk)

At this time of year, tadpoles are turning into froglets and toadlets. If you’ve spotted frogspawn or toadspawn in a pond near you in recent months, you might see the cute little critters hopping around your garden.

So, we’ve put together a quick guide to garden amphibians and some tips to help you make them feel welcome.

What is an amphibian?

Common toad
Toads have warty skin (Photo: northeastwildlife.co.uk)

The word ‘amphibian’ means ‘two kinds of life’. That sums it up pretty well as amphibians live partly in the water and partly on land. In the UK, we have three types of amphibian: frogs, toads and newts.

A frog’s skin is damp and smooth, but a toad’s is relatively dry in comparison – and really warty!

A newt is longer and thinner – a bit like a lizard. Check out our amphibian ID to help you identify frogs, toads and newts, and tell them apart.

How can I attract frogs and other amphibians to my garden?

Common newt
Attract newts to your garden by building a pond (Photo: northeastwildlife.co.uk)

Build a pond! You don’t need loads space – just room to fit an old washing up bowl. Check out our pond-building instructions. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden pond already, make sure it’s amphibian friendly. It needs to have a gradual slope on one side, or some stones piled up, to help them get out of the water.

If you can’t build a pond, leave a bit of your garden wild. You may still see amphibians in your garden as they travel from one pond to another.

What eat frogs, toads and newts?

Amphibians get eaten by other creatures such as large birds, hedgehogs, foxes, and sometimes by cats, so it’s a good idea to have some plants around the edge of your pond where they can go for cover.

How to protect frogs and other amphibians

Common frog climbing a dandelion leaf
Not all frogs are as green as this one! (Photo: northeastwildlife.co.uk)

You also need to be very careful when you’re cutting the grass, just in case there’s an amphibian hiding there.

Amphibians can breathe through their skin so that means they can easily absorb poisons through it too. That’s why it’s best not to use things like slug pellets in your garden. Frog and toads love to eat slugs and other garden pests, so if you attract them to the garden you won’t need the pellets anyway.

Frog facts

Did you know…? Frogs aren’t all green like they are in story books. They can come in all sorts of colours. Occasionally, you may even see an orange, yellow or pink one! Check out our frog facts blog for more fascinating information, and have a look at our frog life cycle iDial too.

Have you built a pond? Do you have amphibians in your garden? Tell us about it and post your pictures on our Facebook page, or on Instagram or Twitter using #NatureDetectives.

Have you spotted any amphibians?

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