Possibly our most recognisable amphibian, the common frog (Rana temporaria) is distributed throughout Britain and Ireland, and can be found in almost any habitat where suitable breeding ponds are near by.
Garden ponds are extremely important for common frogs and many populations in suburban areas depend on them.
Common frogs have smooth moist skin. Frogs are often found close to fresh water in habitats that remain damp throughout the summer. Outside of the breeding season they can roam up to 500 metres from a breeding pond.
Adults can grow to 9cm (nose to tail). They are generally a shade or olive-green or brown, with a dark patch (or 'mask') behind the eyes. Frogs often have bands of darker striping on the back legs. Many individuals have irregular dark markings on the back. Colouration is extremely variable: yellow, pink, red, orange and black individuals are often seen.
Spawning takes place during early spring, starting in the south of Britain as early as January. Tadpoles generally take up to sixteen weeks to grow back legs, then front legs before they metamorphose into tiny froglets, ready to leave the water in early summer (often June, but in some ponds this may be as late as September).
'Mature' tadpoles are faintly speckled with a gold/brown colouration which distinguishes them from the black tadpoles of the common toad. Common frogs feed on a variety of invertebrate prey, slugs and snails particularly. This makes them very beneficial to gardeners.
In Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the common frog (and its spawn) is protected by law from trade and sale.