The Anurans (Frogs and Toads) are the most ubiquitous order of amphibians, being found in virtually every continent of the world except the poles, and Europe has its fair share of these versatile creatures, although their numbers here pale in comparison with the tropics.
Of the dozen or so families belonging to the Order Anura, only the Families Discoglossidae, Pelobatidae, Bufonidae, Hylidae and Ranidae are represented on the continent. Most of the European anurans belong to this last family. There is a separate page for the classification of frogs and toads, but I have not included many details here as I do not believe they are very relevant to the sort of person who just wants to know what that hopping thing was, or that green snout pointing out of the water.
As with newts and salamanders, frogs and toads are a useful barometer of environmental conditions, since many will shun or die in polluted water, despite the hardiness of some species. Some also perform valuable service in preying on mosquito larvae, while others such as the Common Toad are the gardener's friend inasmuch as they prey on slugs. They are only problematic to humans if handled, when their skin toxins can cause discomfort to human mucous membranes. It therefore makes sense to encourage frogs and toads without pestering them unduly.
This page is not as lengthy as those for lizards and snakes, but I have included as much information as possible. I hope that this page will raise the level of interest in our European anurans.
NB Unlike the pages for the other Reptile and Amphibian families, where measurements were given in inches or feet, measurements for the families here are given in centimetres, owing to the generally small size of the subjects.
Either click on a frog or toad in the Quick Links section or scroll down for the whole table.
|Bombina bombina, Fire-Bellied Toad
|Bombina variegata, Yellow-Bellied Toad
|Discoglossus galganoi, Iberian Painted Frog
|Discoglossus montalentii, Corsican Painted Frog
|Discoglossus pictus, Painted Frog
|Discoglossus sardus, Tyrrhenian Painted Frog
|Alytes obstetricians, Midwife Toad
|Alytes cisternasii, Iberian Midwife Toad
|Alytes dickhilleni, Betic Midwife Toad
|Alytes muletensis, Majorcan Midwife Toad
|Pelobates cultripes, Western Spadefoot
|Pelobates fuscus, Common Spadefoot
|Pelobates syriacus, Eastern Spadefoot
|Pelodytes punctatus, Parsley Frog
|Bufo bufo, Common Toad
|Bufo calamita, Natterjack
|Bufo viridis, Green Toad
|Hyla arborea, Common Tree Frog
|Hyla meridionalis, Stripeless Treefrog
|Hyla sarda, Tyrrhenian Treefrog
|Rana arvalis, Moor Frog
|Rana catesbeiana, American Bullfrog
|Rana dalmatina, Agile Frog
|Rana epeirotica, Epirus Water Frog
|Rana esculenta, Edible Frog
|Rana graeca, Stream Frog
|Rana iberica, Iberian Frog
|Rana italica, Italian Stream Frog
|Rana macrocnemis, Long-Legged Wood Frog
|Rana latastei, Italian Agile Frog
|Rana lessonae, Pool Frog
|Rana perezi, Perez's Frog
|Rana ridibunda, Marsh Frog
|Rana shqiperica, Lake Scutari Water Frog
|Rana temporaria, Common Frog
|Fire-Bellied Toad [F: Sonneur à ventre rouge: D: Rotbauchunke]
|Denmark east as far as R. Volga
|Despite the similarity between this and the species below, they are found at different altitudes, B. bombina being found primarily at low altitudes in still water (small pools, marsh waters, ponds and large lakes), where it frequents vegetation in or besides the water. It is a good diver and preys mainly on aquatic arthropods, including all stages of the mosquito. If the water source dries up, these toads can survive by sheltering in fissures in the mud and preying on terrestrial arthropods. Despite its large range, the Fire-Bellied Toad does not have any subspecies: nevetheless in some areas it overlaps with the Yellow-Bellied Toad, and sometimes hybrids are found. For such a small toad B. bombina is surprisingly vocal during the mating season (May-July): unlike the males of B. variegata, male Fire-Bellied Toads have a subcutaneous vocal sac, noticeable only when inflated. Colouring differs from that of the Yellow-Bellied Toad, not only in being red as opposed to yellow but also in the Fire-Bellied Toad having darker spots on its back and having a greater area of dark colouring on the abdomen. The shapes of the warts also differ between the two species: in B. variegatus they have small sharp rough spines, whereas in B. bombina they have blunt tough tips. Captive Fire-Bellied Toads have lived for up to 30 years.
|Bombina variegata variegata
|Yellow-Bellied Toad [F: Sonneur à pieds épais: D: Gelbbauchunke]
|W & C. Europe, Italy N of Po, N Balkans and E Europe
|A small and seemingly inconspicuous toad found in pools on hills and moutains, Bombina variegata actually derives its common name from its underbelly, which it displays as a toxicity warning if threatened. Consistent with this is the secretion of venom from cutaneous gland which can cause stinging if contacting human mucous membranes. It is an aquatic toad and is found in pools and puddles as well as village ponds, where it can tolerate a high degree of natural organic contamination, eg from decaying leaves. In May-July females lay over 100 eggs: these hatch 12 days later, producing 6mm larvae. Larvae hatching later in the year do not metamorphose but enter hibernation in the larval stage. Adult toads hibernate in the ground.
|B. v. kolombatovici
|C & S Dalmatia as far as W Montenegro
|B. v. pachypus
|Italy S of the Po floodplain, NE Sicily
|B. v. scabra
|S. Balkans (Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria; poss. Romania)
|Iberian Painted Frog [D: Iberischer Scheibenzüngler]
|Most of Iberian peninsula
|D. g. galganoi
|D. g. jeanneae
|S Spain (Andalusia, Cadiz, Heulva, Seville), Gibraltar
|Corsican Painted Frog [F: Discoglosse corse: D: Korsischer Scheibenzüngler]
|Painted Frog [F: Discoglosse peint: D: Gemalter Scheibenzüngler]
|S. France, Iberia, Sicily, Malta (inc. Gozo), N. Africa (Algeria-Morocco)
|The Discoglossid frogs derive their scientific name from their tongues, which unlike most frogs are mostly fixed and therefore cannot be protruded to catch prey as most other species do. Instead, they use their jaws. Discoglossids are also extremely fertile and hence popular laboratory subjects. A female can lay 300-1,000 eggs over 2-10 days, usually on a stony surface: the male then fertilises these. The process of metamorphosis from fertilisation to metamorphosis takes 1-2 months dependent upon climate. Egg-laying can take place several times a year, making discoglossids fairly abundant in their habitats.D. pictus is highly dependent upon water and is found in marshes, ponds and flowing water in low-lying country. Interestingly, it will inhabit water too brackish for most other amphibians. Apart from this its choice of habitat is fairly variable: in southern France it is also found in orchards, vineyards, camping places and even in the direct proximity of human settlements. It is very agile and active by both day and night, preying on both aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and occasional small fish. Colouring is variable, but there are usually different kinds of spots on the back arranged in three main rows: some Painted Frogs have a light stripe down the back.
|D. p. pictus
|Sicily and Malta (inc. Gozo)
|Population of this subspecies may be endangered by the lowering of the water table (Nöllert & Nöllert, 1992)
|D. p. auritus
|S. France, Iberia, N. Africa (Algeria- Morocco)
|Tyrrhenian Painted Frog [F: Discoglosse sarde: D: Sardischer Scheibenzüngler]
|SE France, Corsica, Sardinia, Giglio, Monte Cristo, Illes d'Hyères, Isle of Lavezzi, Italy (Mt Argentario in Tuscany).
|Differs from D. pictus in having a wider head and slightly shorter rear limbs: formerly regarded by some as a subspecies of the latter rather than a full species. D. sardus also seems more indifferent to the level of brackishness in water (Nöllert & Nöllert, 1992).
|Midwife Toad [F: Crapaud accoucheur: D: Gemeine Geburtshelferkröte]
|W. Europe as far east as Harz mtns and W. Thuringia (Germany)
|The name of this toad is derived from its unusual breeding patterns. Females are courted by a number of males, until the strongest succeeds in embracing her and then encourages her to lay her eggs on dry land. She lays a string of 50-80 large eggs, which he fertilises and then winds around his hind legs. The male subsequently carries these around with him, checking them for correct moisture levels and moistening them in dew or shallow water or during the day sheltering with them in a hole. After about a month he finds a body of still water where the tadpoles can hatch. Metamorphosis takes rather a long time, about one year. Other than this, the lifestyle of the Midwife Toad is similar to that of the true toads (Bufonidae), from which it can be distinguished by its vertical pupils. It is mainly nocturnal and by day hides under stones or in holes it excavates itself. Prey is mainly various invertebrate animals. The call of the male has been called "agreeable, sonorous".
|Iberian Midwife Toad [F: Alyte de citernes: D: Iberische Geburtshelferkröte]
|W. & C. Iberia
|Similar to the above, except that the Midwife Toad has three, and the Iberian Midwife Toad only two, tubercles on the palm of its hands.
|Betic Midwife Toad
|Similar to A. cisternasii, except that the Betic Toad lacks the orange-red glandular spots found on other Alytes species. This species was only described in 1995. See the AmphibiaWeb entry.
|Mallorcan Midwife Toad [D: Mallorca- Geburtshelferkröte]
|Sierra de Tramuntana (Mallorca)
|An interesting and late discovery made only in 1977, after Spanish researchers had described the species Baleaphryne muletensis which was supposedly extinct. In fact in 1979 living tadpoles and young frogs were discovered in the Sierra de Tramuntana, to which area the species is confined. This is a small toad with a relatively large head and a rounded snout. The eyes are likewise very prominent with vertical pupils. There are three tubercles on the palm. Compared to the rest of the genus, this species has relatively long limbs, toes and fingers. The coloration and patterning of the dorsum is quite variable: the ventrum is white. A dark triangular mark may be present behind the eye. The females lay comparatively few but large eggs (usually 7-12), which the males then carry between May and July. The species is considered under threat from various human activities, and a protected area of about 26,000 hectares has been set up (Nöllert and Nöllert). A. muletensis has also been bred in Germany and in Jersey Zoo.
|Western Spadefoot [F: Pélobate cultripède: D: Messerfuß]
|W. France, Iberia
|The Western Spadefoot and Eastern Spadefoot differ from the Common Spadefoot mainly in their sizes and the shape of the "spade" (growth to aid digging, hence the common name of the genus) on the back of the hind leg. Otherwise see below for natural history.
|Common Spadefoot [F: Pélobate brun: D: Knoblauchkröte]
|France east to Siberia: not Iberia
|One of the most widely distributed toads in Europe. Despite its clumsy appearance the Common Spadefoot is an agile mover on land and a good swimmer. Being nocturnal and something of a digger, it is not encountered widely but is actually fairly widespread. The Spadefoot will bury itself in dykes, loose forest soil and even tilled fields and gardens, although the best place to find them is around shallow ponds in low-lying country at night. The toads bury themselves at light, often to a depth of 1 metre. A special adaptation on their hind limbs helps them in this: they dig backwards, the head being the last part of the body to disappear underground. Diet consists of insects, worms and molluscs. The aquatic phase of this toad is April-June, but it leaves the water as soon as the eggs have been laid. Males make guttural sounds during breeding. The females lay several thousand eggs each in the form of wide gelatinous bands. At 18 cm, the tadpoles are the largest in Europe. Like many amphibians the Common Spadefoot can secrete a defensive substance from its skin glands if threatened (eg picked up!): this apparently smells like garlic. It will also squeak in protest.
|P. f. fuscus
|Most of range
|P. f. insubricus
|Italy (Po floodplain)
|Eastern Spadefoot [F: Pélobate syrien: D: Syrische Schaufelkröte]
|Balkans, W. Asia
|For natural history see above.
|Parsley Frog [F: Pélodyte ponctué: D: Westlicher Schlammtaucher]
|Iberia, France, W. Belgium, NW Italy
|Very similar in appearance to the Common Frog but distinguishable by the vertical pupil in its eyes. Its habitats are either extremely damp or right by a body of water: it tends to hide under stones or in holes in the ground, only emerging after rainfall or at night. Parsley Frogs enter the water in spring to breed: at these times the calls of the males can be heard from below the surface. Both sexes are good swimmers. 1,000-1,600 eggs are laid in strings across aquatic plants: the tadpoles are actually bigger than the frogs themselves, at 6½ cm length.
|The only other surviving member of the genus Pelodytes, although it seems that in ancient times the genus was more abundant. It is found in the Caucasian mountains at altitudes of up to 2,300 m. Its patterns of habitation (secluded) and diet (small invertebrates) are similar to that of the Parsley Frog, but breeding is somewhat different. Eggs are lain in clusters of 160-500, metamorphosis taking about 80 days. In some cases the frogs apparently do not enter the water to mate until August, in which case the subsequent larvae hibernate in this state on the bottom of the body of water.
|Common Toad [F: Crapaud commun: D: Erdkröte]
|Europe (inc. GB), temperate Asia, Japan: absent from Ireland and Malta, Corsica, Sardinia, Crete and the Balearic islands.
|One of the most widely distributed anurans in the world, stretching across half the globe, yet in danger of severe depletion at the hands of man due to roadkills or general antipathy, despite its usefulness as a consumer of various nocturnal insects, larvae and molluscs. Sexual dimorphism in the Common Toad is very marked, with the females being obviously larger. Most of the year round these toads are solitary creatures and somewhat territorial, excavating their own refuge and having their own hunting territory. However when the breeding season begins in spring (usually end of March in C. Europe) Common Toads travel in their hundreds to their breeding ground, usually a pond in a wood or field, which is often a long distance away - hence the casualties on the roads. If the water covers a large area, the toads remain in a narrow zone at the water's edge. The males make rather muffled calls which travel just far enough to allow the females to locate potential partners. (The males do not have external resonators to amplify their calls, unlike many other anurans). After ampiplexus the females lay up to 6,000 eggs each in strings that can reach over 2 metres in length. The period from hatching to metamorphosis lasts 2-3 months: the tadpoles form shoals and feed on algae. Common Toads can be distinguished from the Natterjack and Green Toad, also members of the Bufo genus, by the shape of its parotoid glands behind its eyes: in the Common Toad the glands are crescent-shaped, while in the other European toads they are straight.
|B. b. bufo
|Throughout practically the entire range of B. bufo
|B. b. gredosicola
|Central Spain, Sierra de Gredos
|Some doubt has been raised about the status of this subspecies.
|B. b. spinosus
|Nöllert and Nöllert note that there seems to have been considerable hybridisation with B. bufo bufo in Portugal, C & S France, the southern Alps and the northern part of the Balkans. In the latter area the classification of the spinosus subspecies may be somewhat tenable.
|Natterjack [F: Crapaud calamite: D: Kreuzkröte]
|Iberia, W. Europe (inc. GB), Czechoslovakia, Poland, Baltic
|The Natterjack is distinctly smaller than its fellow Bufo species the Common and Green Toads and can also be distinguished from the Common Toad by its green, as opposed to yellow, irises. In addition it has a yellow stripe running down its back. Due to its hindlegs being about the same length as its forelegs, the Natterjack runs instead of leaping. Its favourite habitats are found in countryside made up of unfertile soil on a sand or clay base. Populations tend to be small and this toad is nocturnal, soberly coloured and small, so the Natterjack is not often noticed by the casual observer. However, the call of the male in the mating season is quite loud and can reach females some way away. In late spring or early summer the female lays 3,000-4,000 eggs in single or double strings. These are deposited in small pools which dry up: this has the result of causing the larvae to develop quickly. Interestingly larvae near the sea will also develop in brackish water. Diet (mainly insects) and behaviour of the Natterjack are similar to the other Bufo species..
|Green Toad [F: Crapaud vert: D: Wechselkröte]
|Europe (exc. Iberia, GB and part of France) east to Mongolia, south to N. Africa and SE to Arabia
|The Green Toad is a handsome amphibian, slimmer and longer-limbed (and thus nimbler and faster) than the Common Toad and larger than the Natterjack. It is also quite tough, being able to survive droughts and high temperatures by sheltering in hideouts that it excavates for itself, and is less fussy than many amphibians about water quality, apparently being able to utilise polluted village ponds or even parts of a sewer. It can be found on seashores, dry steppes or in damp areas, and is not shy of approaching human habitations to catch insects attracted by lights. Although in Asian mountains it can be found at up to 4,500 m, the European populations evidently prefer low country. Of the subspecies of this toad, the European form is the nominate subspecies. The females are larger and plumper than the males. The latter have a visible vocal sac and make mating calls that have been described as "tinkling" or "trilling": these calls are only made in the water. Although breeding takes place in April-May, some males will carry on calling into June. The female lays 12,000 eggs wrapped in gelatinous strings 2-4 metres long: the tadpoles hatch in 4-5 days and develop in 2-3 months. They become the largest tadpoles of the European Bufo species before metamorphosis. The different Bufo tadpoles can be distinguished mainly by size and the shapes of their mouths. Occasionally hybrid forms of the Natterjack and Green Toad are encountered.
|B. v. viridis
|B. v. balearicus
|Mallorca, Minorca, Ibiza
|According to Nöllert and Nöllert, these toads were probably brought into the Balearic Islands from Corsica and Sardinia during the Bronze Age for cultic reasons. They believe the subspecies status is not justifiable as there has been insufficient time for the Balearic toads to develop subspeciation.
|Common Treefrog [F: Rainette verte: D: Europäischer Laubfrosch]
|N. Spain, N. & C. France east to Eurasia and up to Japan.
|The Common Treefrog is a small and attractive anuran that is widely distributed from NW Africa across Eurasia as far as Japan. There are five European subspecies, plus others elsewhere. Unlike most anurans, these frogs call all the year round, although they do become noisier in the breeding season (April-May). Males can be distinguished by their darker throats, usually smoky grey or yellow-brown. As befits their name, adults live in trees, bushes or tall grass, having sticky pads at the ends of their digits to aid them in clinging. They are often found at some distance from water, except during the breeding season. Another interesting characteristic of treefrogs is their ability to change colour: a mechanism that, as with lizards, is more a function of temperature and mood than camouflage. The usual green can become grey, brown or yellow, and spots may even appear. The Common Treefrog needs warm and clean water to breed. Females lay up to 1,000 eggs in a walnut-sized cluster which then sits at the bottom of a stream or pool. The tadpoles are distinctive both by their wide fins and their golden colour. Development takes about two months. After metamorphosis the young dwell on the ground and only later in life begin to climb. Those Common Treefrogs found further north hibernate either singly or in small groups in winter shelters. Main diet is insects taken from plants, although small vertebrates may be taken by large specimens. The forelegs are used to help in swallowing.
|H. a. arborea
|France, C. & E. Europe, Denmark, S Sweden, Italy, Sicily and Balkans
|H. a. kretensis
|See remarks in Nöllert and Nöllert on Greek subspecies.
|H. a. moelleri
|Stripeless Treefrog [F: Rainette méridionale: D: Mittelmeer- Laubfrosch]
|NE, S & SW Iberia: S France, NW Italy (Liguria), Balearic islands, NW Africa, Canary Islands and Madeira
|Similar to above but lacks the dark markings on the sides of the Common Treefrog.
|Tyrrhenian Treefrog [D: Tyrrhenischer Laubfrosch]
|Corsica, Sardinia, Elba and other islands in the vicinity
|Moor Frog [F: Grenouille des champs: D: Moorfrosch]
|France through Central Europe to L. Baikal (Siberia): Sweden as far as beyond Arctic Circle
|The Moor Frog looks very similar to the Common Frog but is in fact one of the rarest frogs of Europe despite its large area of distribution. Its favoured habitats are peat bogs or damp meadows in areas where ponds are fairly abundant, and this dependence on a certain type of habitat caused its decline Hibernation takes place either at the bottom of a pool or on dry land, presumably in similar habitats to young Common Frogs (see above). Diet is also similar to the Common and other frogs. Upon awaking in the cold nights of early spring, moor frogs assemble in small groups in pools and small ponds. In larger bodies of water they will choose an area in the shallowest part of the water and not mix with other groups. As the breeding season commences, males turn blue due to lymph concentrating in the subcutaneous spaces. If it feels threatened while on dry land, a Moor Frog will make a long high jump and then burrow beneath a clump of grass. Moor Frogs can be distinguished from Common Frogs by their narrow snouts, and also by the larger tubercle on the medial aspect of the sole of the hind foot. Moor Frogs also tend to lack the ventral spotting of the Common Frog.
|American Bullfrog [F: Grenouille taureau: D: Amerikanischer Ochsenfrosch]
|N. Italy: N. America, Carribean
|Originally a native of N. America, but introduced into the Carribean and then Europe. It is similar in appearance to its European relatives and also takes small vertebrates as part of its diet. Its common name derives from its call, which is more of a bellow than a croak.
|Agile Frog [F: Grenouille agile: D: Springfrosch]
|N. Spain, C. & S. Europe through to Turkey, Caucasus and Urals
|This frog is more limited in distribution and habitat than the previous two members of the Ranidae, even though it superficially resembles them. The Agile Frog prefers warm climates and places and also almost only inhabits low-lying areas. Favoured habitats are damp shaded spots at the edge of woods (except totally coniferous) or in riverside meadows. It only enters the water during the breeding season, and has limited webbing between its toes. One of its most striking features is its very long and slim hind legs. Thanks to these limbs, the Agile Frog has been recorded leaping up to 2 metres distant and 0.75 metres high. Like the Common Frog, it has a black 'mask' behind each eye, but has fewer spots than either the Common or the Moor Frog. Other distinguishing features are its flattened snout and the closeness of the eardrums to the eyes. Size seems to be climate dependent, with the larger individuals being found in the south of its range. Interestingly the sexes hibernate separately, the males in still water and the females in terrestrial hiding places. Mating takes place in March-April, but again this seems to be climate dependent, as mating in the south may begin as early as February. This is the only time that the males croak, and their call is not very audible. The female lays 600-1,000 eggs in clusters, usually at night. Tadpoles are a light olive brown and at a pre-metamorphosis size of 6cm are one of the biggest in Europe. Metamorphosis takes place in C. Europe in June-August, possibly earlier in the south: the young frogs leave the water soon after. Diet consists mainly of invertebrates (especially spiders), but occasionally small vertebrates may be taken.
|Epirus Water Frog [D: Epirusfrosch]
|Greece (west of Pindos mtns, NW Peloponnese), Corfu, Lefkos, Cephalonia and Zakinthos), Albania (confined to Saranda plain?)
|Species only described in 1984.
|R. kl esculenta
|Edible Frog [F: Grenouille verte: D: Teichfrosch]
|Europe (exc. Iberia and N. Scandinavia) east to Volga
|One of the so-called "green frogs". The Edible Frog is fairly catholic in its habitats, preferring shallow ponds but also living in small, isolated lakes and pools. However, they never occur above 1,000 metres. Their diet is also very varied and is caught on land or in the water: insects and other invertebrates and small vertebrates. Cannibalism is known in this species. Large specimens may reach 12 cm in size: males are smaller than the females. Despite this hardiness and lack of special preferences, however, the Edible Frog is being displaced in some areas by the Marsh Frog, which is larger. Furthermore the Edible Frog has the unenviable distinction of being the chief provider of "frog's legs" for human populations. Mating takes place in spring: the females lay 5,000-10,000 eggs in clusters of up to 300, all within the space of 1-2 days. Larvae hatch in about 10 days, but development is thereafter temperature dependent: in warm weather metamorphosis takes place in about 3 months, but in some cases the larvae hibernate and complete their metamorphosis the following year. Colouring of the Edible Frog is an overall green, with prominent and variably coloured ridges on their backs and often a yellow-green dorsal stripe. The croaking of a male causes its vocal sac (white or grey in colour) to swell out at both corners of its mouth. There is some debate about the "green frog" complex, with some if not most authorities believing R. esculenta to be a fertile hybrid of interbreeding between R. lessonae and R. ridibunda.
|Stream Frog [F: Grenouille grecque d'Italie: D: Griechischer Springfrosch]
|C. & S. Balkans, Italy, S. Switzerland
|The Stream Frog is mainly a montane species and is rarely encountered at low altitudes. It favours habitats near forest streams in coniferous forests or mixed woodlands. It is closely related to the Common Frog (both in biology and colouring) and can similarly tolerate a wide temperature range. Although the first night frosts usually send the Stream Frog into hibernation, subsequent warm weather will bring it out again. Hibernation takes place in a wide range of places: deep in loose forest soil, under fallen trees or in tree stumps, under boulders or in a hole in the ground. In spring the frogs enter the water only to breed. The females lay their eggs in clusters in areas where the current is slow or absent, such as stream backwaters or forest lakes. For the rest of the year the frogs live on their own, a common characteristic of the Ranidae. Diet is mainly insects and their larvae, various annelids and slugs. Although similar in appearance to the Common Frog, the Stream Frog can be distinguished by its generally smaller size and a dark spot on its throat. The Stream Frog has no subspecies, but individuals from Italy have a shorter body and limbs than those from the Balkans.
|Iberian Frog [F: Grenouille ibérique: D: Spanischer Springfrosch]
|Portugal, NW Spain, Andorra
|Found mainly in mountain forests at altitudes higher than 2,000 m.
|Italian Stream Frog [D: Italienischer Frosch]
|Italy (Genoa eastwards through the entire Apennine range to the "heel" of the peninsula)
|Very similar in appearance to R. graeca but smaller: was originally considered a subspecies of the latter.
|Long-Legged Wood Frog
|Italian Agile Frog [F: Grenouille agile d'Italie: D: Italienischer Springfrosch]
|Distinguishable from other brown frogs mainly by the throat markings.
|Pool Frog [F: Petite grenouille verte: D: Kleiner Wasserfrosch]
|C. & E. Europe
|4½-6½ cm avg., max 7-8 cm
|Found in similar habitats to the above: exact status is under debate. For this reason the former subspecies R. l. pannonica has been removed from this list.
|Perez's Frog [F: Grenouille de Pérez: D: Iberischer Wasserfrosch]
|Iberian peninsula, southern France, Balearic Islands
|5-8cm (max 10cm)
|Formerly considered a subspecies of R. ridibunda.
|Marsh Frog [F: Grenouille rieuse: D: Italienischer Seefrosch]
|N. Africa across S. & C. Europe to W. Asia, C Asia, China and India
|The largest of the original European Frogs, the Marsh Frog can occasionally reach sizes of up to 18cm. This, together with the variety of its diet which in addition to insects includes small vertebrates such as frogs, tadpoles, lizards and voles, makes it unsurprising that that Marsh Frog is progressively pushing westward and displacing the Edible Frog, both by competition for food and direct predation. Marsh frogs favour warm lowlands with a high incidence of shallow ponds or else large, slow-flowing rivers. Unusually for Ranidae species they often form large communities, up to 2,000 per hectare. The frogs hibernate in the mud at the bottom of the water and only awaken when water temperature reaches 6-9 deg. C. After mating, the females wait until the temperature reaches 15 deg. C before laying large clusters of eggs which sit at the bottom of the pool. The actual number of eggs laid is dependent upon the size of the female but can vary between 4,000-12,000. The tadpoles are light green and pear-shaped: they reach up to 9cm in size, but after metamorphosis (which takes three months in the water) the young frogs are only about 1.5-2.5 cm. Colouring is variable but is usually olive green or mainly brown. Markings are also variable, but the eardrums of the male (which is smaller than the female) are always grey or blackish-brown. The two former subspecies R. r. perezi and R. r. saharica are now recognised as full species.
|Lake Scutari Water Frog [D: Skutari-Wasserfrosch]
|Lake Scutari (former Yugoslavia and Albania)
|First described in 1987.
|Common Frog [F: Grenouille rousse: D: Grasfrosch]
|Scandinavia, GB and Ireland, France (not SE), Benelux, Italy (Alps and Apennine mtns, not Po floodplain), Spain, N Balkans, E Europe as far south as W Bulgaria, C Romania and Ukraine and then eastwards to Siberia
|10 cm i
|The most common and widely distributed frog in Europe, thanks to its ability to live in seemingly any habitat and any type of water, and even at some distance from it. It can also live at altitudes of up to 4,000 metres. The frogs lead solitary lives most of the year, preying on various invertebrates including molluscs, worms and most arthropods. In winter most hibernate in the mud at the bottom of a body of water, but young frogs will often shelter instead under damp stones or fallen tree trunks. These are the first frogs to emerge from hibernation in spring. Breeding commences in March, even if there is still frost and ice present during the night. The vocal sacs of the males turn blue and their nuptial pads swell during the mating season, but their call is not very loud or distinct and interestingly they only call during the day, when in water, and not at night. The females lay up to 4,000 eggs each in clusters that float in the water. The tadpoles cling to the leaves of aquatic plants once they have hatched: development and metamorphosis take 2-3 months in total, upon which there is a large migration of young frogs from the water. Colouring is variable in this species but there are generally two basic schemes: a brownish back with a black area behind the eye and extending to the forelegs, or a green back without this 'mask'. The underside is usually light but often spotted.
|R. t. temporaria
|Most of range
|R. t. canigonensis
|France (E Pyrenees)
|R. t. honnorati
|Foot of the Alps
|Status subject to debate (see Nöllert & Nöllert).
|R. t. parvipalmata
I would like to acknowledge the crucial part played in this page by Lanka and Vit's Amphibians and Reptiles, from which accounts of the more obscure frogs were sometimes lifted almost verbatim. Any mistakes are my own! Data will be added or corrected in the course of my further reading.
Die Amphibien Europas, Andreas and Christel Nöllert, Franckh-Kosmos, Stuttgart 1992. Outstanding nature guide to every species of amphibian found in Europe.
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