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HELP! Problems and concerns brought to our attention through letters from homeowners.

  1. What sort of precautions can be taken to prevent frogs living in your backyard from escaping and being killed by cars?

    Try and locate your pond away from the road. Surround your pond with a rich habitat so that the frogs do not need to migrate to find food or a wintering habitat. Frogs will not generally leave their pond as they require very moist conditions to survive. Toadlets, on the other hand, can withstand dryer conditions and disperse out of their maternal pond to find new feeding habitat.

    Toads lay 5,000 eggs. Most of these are destined to die. Despite the high mortality on roads, only two frogs or two toads need to survive to maintain your amphibian population. Install toad/frog crossing signs in the area where toads/frogs are killed on roads.

  2. Can I have frogs in my backyard if I have a pet dog/cat?

    Dogs and cats will prey on your backyard frogs/toads unless you protect them. Pets, except for the most aggressive cats and dogs, usually leave toads alone because they are sensitive to the mild toxins in their skin. Provide lots of cover (bushes, logs) for amphibians to hide in. Building a wooden fence around your pond will keep dogs, cats and children out of the pond area and will allow the amphibians to leave the area if they need to find an overwintering habitat. The fenced-in area should include the pond as well as protective habitat. The planting of bushes, flower and grasses around the outside of the fence is also encouraged to complete your natural habitat.

  3. What can I do to stop fishermen at cottages from using frogs as bait, and children from torturing them?

    The issue of declining amphibian populations may not be well known to those using frogs as bait. Educating the general public on the global issue of declining amphibian populations is the step in stopping the misuse of amphibians. By explaining to fishermen, children and other community members that they are having a negative impact on both a local and global problem, we might be able to convince them to leave our amphibian friends alone. There are many examples of the over-collection of frogs for food or bait resulting in the decline of their population.

  4. Where can I get frogs/toads?

    Amphibians should never be taken from the wild nor bought at a pet store or nursery. Your amphibian will die if your pond is not a suitable habitat for the species you put in it. For example, bullfrog tadpoles require a very specific habitat to survive because it takes three or more years for it to develop into an adult frog. Very few urban environments provide such a habitat for bullfrogs. If your pond provides a suitable habitat for a particular amphibian species and that species is found within your bioregion, it will eventually inhabit it. Have a little patience - it may take a few years!

    All amphibians require very specific breeding and overwintering conditions unique to each species. Some overwinter in water, and others on land. Some tolerate ice in their bodies, while others die if exposed to frost. You cannot release frogs/toads in any habitat and expect it to survive.

    Another concern is that pet store and nurseries may not be carrying native frog species. The breeding of non-native amphibian species may introduce an unknown virus to our environment resulting in the destruction of native amphibian populations. Viruses are one of the proposed explanations for the global decline in amphibian populations.

    Do not buy from nurseries or pest control companies live frogs,toads, salamanders or newts. Most of these have been taken from the wild where they were doing well and are likely to die in your backyard.

  5. Why not breed frogs native to Ontario?

    Not all amphibians species found in Ontario are native to every bioregion in Ontario. By introducing an amphibian species non-native to a particular bioregion, you could be endangering frog species native to that bioregion. This may be due to increased level of competition for food and shelter, or predation. For example, bullfrogs should not be artificially introduced into your backyard because their favorite food is other smaller frogs. By introducing bullfrogs to your backyard, you could be endangering frog species native to your specific bioregion.

  6. Is it viable to make a pond even if there are no frogs/toads around us?

    Yes! Ponds provide habitat for a wide range of animals and plants. In addition, the more ponds that are built in your area the greater the chance that an existing amphibian population will be linked to your backyard wetland. Build a pond and eventually frogs/toads will come as nearby habitat is occupied. In the meantime, enjoy the dragonflies that live in your pond.

  7. Why did my frogs not return this spring?

    The lack of overwintering habitats is the most likely reason why your frogs did not return this spring. As described in this book, each amphibian species requires a specific overwintering habitat. If this habitat is not present than the amphibian species will freeze to death.

    Other possible reasons explaining the disappearance of your frogs this spring is a natural death. Often "your" frog/toad simply moved to another habitat - with patience other frogs /toads may return.

  8. Will frogs/toads survive in ponds with muskrats, beaver, otter, herons and ducks?

    Although otter, herons and ducks do eat amphibians, they will survive in a wetland which contain them. Frogs/toads are a source of food for many animals, and so produce thousands of eggs. Some will survive predation and grow to be sexually mature adults.

  9. Will frogs survive in ponds containing fish?

    A number of fish species eat amphibian eggs. Because most backyard ponds are very small in comparison to natural wetland ecosystems (where frogs obviously live with fish), we do not recommend that you put fish in a pond that was created to attract amphibians. If you wish to have both frogs and fish in your backyard, why not build two ponds? Of course, one fish cannot breed and will probably co-exist well with our native amphibians.

  10. If my pond is not deep enough for the frogs/toads to hibernate, what do I do with them?

    Do not try to keep frogs in your pond if it is not deep enough (at least 1.5 metres) to prevent it from completely freezing. Toads do not hibernate in your pond, but do hibernate in sandy soils and backyard compost heaps. Frogs that do hibernate in the bottom of ponds will not inhabit a pond that will completely freeze during the winter. Pond hibernating frogs will freeze to death if they are introduced into a shallow pond, unless a large deep pond is found nearby for them to move into for the winter. If you have already introduced pond hibernating frogs to your pond and don't have a wintering pond nearby, then you might want to move them into an indoor aquarium for the winter.

  11. Will frogs/toads survive in an aquarium?

    Frogs and Toads will survive in an aquarium if their required habitat conditions are re-created. Adult frogs/toads will require both water and dry land. An aquarium is essential to create a humid environment. Adult frogs/toads can survive on live store bought crickets as long as they are powdered with a vitamin supplement. A frog/toad will develop rickets without this vitamin supplement. Make sure you do not crowd the frogs in an aquarium as they will become stressed.

    We do not recommend that amphibians (or any animal) is taken out of the wild. Animals can become stressed when taken out of their natural environments, and develop stress -related diseases which may lead to death. Rest assured that you are helping wildlife by creating the habitat that sustains them.

  12. What can I do about all the mosquitoes breeding in my pond?

    You can encourage birds and bats to roost in your garden and accept the resulting balance of predator and prey. Mosquitoes tend to breed in still waters. A solution to this problem is Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt. Bt is a naturally occurring bacteria found in the soil which has become a very popular form of organic pest control with commercial-scale organic growers. Each subspecies of Bt has been found to kill a different insect or type of insect. Bt only works when it is ingested by the pest, at which time it paralyzes the mouth parts and stops it from feeding. Bt releases a deadly protein that tears up the insect's gut lining which causes it to die. Bt israelensis is what is used to kill mosquito larvae. It is crucial that the Bt be applied when the larvae first appear.

    Caution should be taken when using Bt. Although it claims that will not harm mammals nor the fish in your pond, it is unclear how Bt will affect amphibians or other invertebrates.

  13. What can I do about raccoons? They're eating all my frogs/toads!

    Raccoons love to eat frogs and toads. If you have a high population of raccoons in your neighbourhood, you might want to build your pond with an island in the center. This island will allow some of your toads/frogs and other wildlife to take refuge. If your pond is already built, you can form a central island with rocks - but be careful if you have a liner! Otherwise you will have to let nature take its course, and hope that the raccoons have left a few frogs/toads to breed in your pond next year.

    Remember it is natural for raccoons to prey on aquatic species like frogs and toads. It is only when raccoon populations get out of control in urban areas, that their numbers have a significant impact on frogs/toads. We have some responsibility for the number of raccoons and can reduce the number of refuges (such as unkept out-buildings and sheds) that raccoons require for overwintering and raising their young. We must learn to live with the wildlife species that find our modifications of urban environments to their liking. Some have suggested that backyard ponds will encourage raccoons. Raccoons will visit your pond but the pond itself is not responsible for raccoons. All good wetlands have raccoons that visit on a nightly basis and you should be pleased that your wetland mimics what happens every night at every wetland.

  14. How do I make my pond safe for children?

    If you are concerned about the safety of small children you may want to restrict access with a natural looking fence (cedar rail) and gate. Large rocks can be submerged just below the waterline restricting access to deeper water (the rocks also provide refuge for frogs and their tadpoles and make it easier for wild life to enter and exit the pond).

    Homeowners are also encouraged to teach water safety. Even if no ponds were created as wild life habitat, our communities are dotted with backyard pools and water courses. Most Canadian children will have access to lakes, rivers, and swimming pools at some time in their life. An awareness of the potential danger and how to act responsibly around water will benefit our children and the wild life that depends upon water for its survival.

  15. What can we do to help declining amphibian populations?

    There are a number of things you can do to help declining amphibian populations: protect existing wetlands, especially woodland wetlands and wet meadows; protect existing natural areas; restore existing or once existing wetlands; build wetlands; talk to children, neighbours, Parks employees and/or industries about your concerns; participate in the Canadian Wildlife Service Amphibian Monitoring Programmes; and of course, Metro Toronto Zoo's Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme.
    This book outlines these activities in more detail.

  16. Who can help me with my pond?

    Contact your local watergarden nursery or :

    Adopt-A-Pond Programme
    Metro Toronto Zoo
    361A Old Finch Ave
    Scarborough ON M1B 5K7

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