8 August 2011

What do frogs eat?

Here are Froglife we’re always encouraging allotment holders and gardeners to install ponds in order to attract amphibians. Frogs, toads and newts are all predators of slugs and other pests that might otherwise cause damage to your plants and vegetables. But how much do we know about exactly what frogs eat?  Wildlife enthusiast Ann Roberts took an unusual step to find out more…
“While weeding my garden a few weeks ago, a common frog hopped out of the plants onto a patch of bare earth.  I’m not sure who was most surprised!  I carried on weeding and it sat and watched me over its shoulder.  I soon realised that its back legs were at a peculiar angle and I then saw a dropping between them; when the frog eventually hopped away, I decided to collect the dropping.
I’ve analysed other animal droppings before, such as hedgehog’s, so I knew what to do - I soaked it overnight, stirred it gently to get it to fall apart and then filtered it on a piece of kitchen paper.  I left it to dry before taking a closer look.

One of the image through the microscope by Steven Gould
I looked at the results through my geology lens and could see a red ant’s head with compound eyes and some tiny beetles.  My neighbour, Steven, then used his microscope and photographed the beetles. There were also lots of what looked like black plant remains and lots of tiny grains of quartz which were probably in the guts of worms eaten by the frog. 
Adults are a bit underwhelmed by this information but children think it great to have watched a frog doing a poo!”

We sent Steven’s photos over to local invertebrate expert Peter Kirby and he identified the beetles as Barypeithes pellucidus, commonly known as the hairy broad-nosed weevil or the strawberry fruit weevil.
“As the name strawberry fruit weevil suggests these insects can occasionally be a minor nuisance, most often, I think, in nurseries, so this highlights the value of amphibians as biological control agents,” Peter added.  “They’re very handy frog food though as they live at frog level, in the sorts of places frogs go, and are slow-moving and easy even for people to catch, so a doddle for an amphibian.”
Have you got any unusual amphibian-encounters you’d like to share?  Get in touch and let us know!
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1 comment:

Dave Kilbey said...

Great blog post, thank you! After being asked by some young children helping at a toad crossing last year what toad poo looks like (first thing they wanted to know, bless them) I was a bit stumped as I've never seen any. But now I know... assuming, of course, that toad poo is similar to that of frogs!