Create a backyard frog pond

Frogs lead double lives. They begin their lives as fish-like tadpoles, breathing with gills as they swim underwater, then metamorphose into their adult form, hopping onto land and breathing with lungs. As adult frogs, they have strong ties to water and most need to remain near water to keep their bodies moist.

So what does this have to do with you? In the past twenty years, habitat loss has been one of the main reasons for the decline in frog populations in the US. The housing boom, in particular, destroyed large areas of natural habitat for wildlife.

It is possible to help out your neighborhood amphibians by creating a frog pond in your backyard. As I am not particularly handy with home projects, I searched the web trying to find an explanation of how to do this that didn’t seem impossible. The best directions I found were on the Loudoun (VA) Wildlife Conservancy site. Although I’m not planning to dig a frog pond in my city backyard, I could imagine following these directions and making this type of pond if I had a large backyard in a more rural area.

Some key points:

  • Be patient. If you build it, the frogs will come…ie, don’t stock the pond with pet store frogs or remove frogs from the wild and relocate them to your pond–that could make matters worse. Non-native species can wreak havoc on local ecosystems. Even native frogs could carry diseases that could cause death in local wild frogs. Just create a good environment for frogs and eventually they might appear.
  • The pond should have sloped sides so that the froglets can emerge from the pond when they are are ready.
  • Plant native plants and include lily pads etc (there are lots of water gardening catalogs).
  • Obviously if you have young children in the area, keep the pond fenced off to prevent accidents.
  • Don’t stock the pond with fish–they’ll eat the tadpoles.
Photo by Laura Regnier (courtesy of savethefrogs.com)

Photo by Laura Regnier (courtesy of www.savethefrogs.com)