How you can help hibernating amphibians

Protect the sleepy frogs, toads and newts hidden away in your garden this winter.

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Common toad

Toads lie dormant over winter, emerging when temperatures exceed 5°C © Robert Kobsa / iStock 

 

1. Let there be light

Frogs hibernate at the bottom of ponds and need to take in oxygen through their skin. Make sure your pond plants are getting enough light to photosynthesise – and that you have plenty of them. If your pond freezes, sweep away any snow that settles on the ice. By all means make a hole in the ice, but research by the Freshwater Habitats Trust has revealed that this is not a ‘quick fix’, because oxygen diffuses slowly.

 

2. Tidy carefully.

Amphibians hibernate anywhere damp and sheltered. Take care not to disturb them when carrying out garden maintenance over the winter.

 

3. Provide shelter

Log piles, piles of leaf litter and compost heaps make ideal winter refuges for amphibians – the best are damp, sheltered and provisioned with slug and insect prey. Amphibians prefer small spaces, so put some loose soil or wood chippings among logs and rocks.

 

4. Make hibernacula

For frogs, bury a perforated, used growing bag in a shallow trench, cover with grass clippings then add a layer of leaves and twigs. Amphibians will also be attracted to simple piles of wood, or rocks covered with soil or turf.

 

5. Keep it cosy

Frogs like to bury themselves in the debris on a pond bed, so make sure that yours isn’t too ‘clean’ – add some soil if necessary.

 

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