Forum home Wildlife gardening

upsetting sight

I've lots of toads laying spawn in my pond at the moment but I was really upset to see two large females with lots of males clinging on them that had burst open. One was already dead and had spawn and intestines coming out of its side. Has anyone else seen this and could it have been caused by the attentions of the males?



  • I have read about the females effectively being 'gang raped' by males (sorry, that sounds awful, but you know what I mean). I have also heard that the females can be killed by this treatment.

    It must be awfully upsetting to witness what you have seen but unfortunately it is just nature and if we love nature I suppose we have to take the rough with the smooth. I know that I would be upset to see what you have seen.


  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    This a common sight in nature. The males compete to fertilise the spawn and the grip on any frog or toad in incredibly strong. The combined pressure of several males can often result in the sight you have seen.

    The one ray of hope from what you have witnessed is the spawn would still be fertilised and grow on to become tadpoles.

    A mothers sacrifice for her young. An incredible thing. 

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,126

    Nature red in tooth and claw.


    How lucky you are to have toads spawning in your pond - it's a sight I've not seen in any number since I was a child when every year I would walk across the farm to an isolated pond in the middle of the fields where every year the toads would be laying their chains of spawn.  Wonderful. image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Derbyshire but with a Nottinghamshire postcode. Posts: 16,461

    I see frogs which appear to have been stabbed. I think it is the heron doing a bit of fishing and not quite grabbing well enough. Female frogs with too many attached males can drown, but I don't think they split open.

     The heron has turned up this week, we Hadn't seen him siince last summer. He's coming for his frog feed. They make easy pickings at this time of year.

  • FleurisaFleurisa Posts: 779

    This is a link I remember reading a while back about exploding toads


  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Derbyshire but with a Nottinghamshire postcode. Posts: 16,461

    Thats fairly gruesome. I suppose its learned behaviour. One gets an easy meal off a dead one, and then they start on the live ones.

    A bit like sharks turning up for the turtle hatchings, Bears turning up for the salmon run, and  on Mull, a local told me that the sheep that graze seaweed on the beach, will take seagulls and eat them. Presumably they started with a dead seagull amongst the seaweed, and progressed from there.

     I know the heron only turns up in my garden at this time of year, and goes straight for the pond.image

  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    Frogs and toads are cannibals so eating each other is common practice.

  • I mentioned this thread to my son, he knew all about the birds-pecking-out-the-liver theory. I wonder if it is true? There's nothing on the Froglife website, and I can't find any reference to the crow business since 2011 (it was in Australia, with cane toads).

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391

    I've also heard about the liver thing so assume it was on TV at some point, either a documentary or a nature programme (perhaps Springwatch? - definitely the sort of thing Chris Packham would have picked-up on!)  I don't watch much else on TV to be honest!

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • The bird theory might be right. A heron does visit the pond also crows for a bath. The two toads affected also looked really big so might have puffed up.

Sign In or Register to comment.