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Spring peeper sounds signal that it’s breeding time for Connecticut’s frogs and salamanders. Here’s a guide to help you identify the eggs you may see while walking outdoors.

 

Vernal Pools, Prime Real Estate For Ecological Health

 

Vernal pools are areas located in meadows and forests that fill with water in the fall and spring, but go through periods of complete dryness. The dry period is essential to preventing fish from living in the water and predating on the eggs of amphibians. Without vernal ponds, most of Connecticut’s amphibians would have no place to reproduce. That’s a big deal. The Red-backed Salamander, one of Connecticut’s 12 resident salamanders, is the most abundant vertebrate in the Northeast. It has been estimated that the biomass of this creature exceeds the biomass of all the other birds and mammals. The erosion of our amphibian’s habitat could have a catastrophic impact on the balance of our state’s ecology.

 

When Do Frogs Lay Eggs?

 

Amphibians begin migration to vernal ponds as early as the fall of the previous year. Because most amphibians have two life stages, an aquatic and a land one, migration often means that the creatures trek across various terrestrial properties and roadways to return to the springs from which they were born. Traffic in Connecticut can be an especially deadly impediment to their progress forward. Because some of these creatures migrate en masse, just one day of heavy traffic can wipe out hundreds of them as they try to cross roadways.

 

The rest of Connecticut’s salamanders and frogs emerge as early as February to make their way to spring breeding grounds. Wood frogs, like some creature out of a sci-fi movie, can actually freeze solid during the winter, only to thaw and ‘wake up’ as temperatures warm in February and March. If you’re out at dusk in the early spring and hear what sounds like a bunch of little ducks quacking, you’re likely tuned into a nearby breeding ground for wood frogs.

 

A must-watch if you hope to be frozen solid on your trip to Mars or if you’re planning on being frozen before you die.  If this frog can do it, maybe we can too!

 

Spring peepers appear on the scene at the end of March or beginning of April depending on the progress of the season. The rest of our state’s turtles, salamanders and frogs file in depending on temperature and species. Typically, eggs by all have been deposited by the middle of April, weather permitting.

 

 

Identifying Frog Eggs In Connecticut

 

Biology is full of exceptions, but in general, there are a couple of things to look for when peering into that precious vernal pond and trying to identify the eggs that one sees.

 

Frog Eggs are Individual Eggs in Clumps; Salamanders’ are ‘Package Wrapped’

 

Frog eggs are usually individual eggs all clumped together that float on the surface of the water, while salamander eggs look like individual eggs enveloped in an additional layer of clear jelly and are usually attached to underwater twigs or vegetation. Toad eggs are usually deposited in ropey coils that lie on the bottom of the pond. Cool fact: some amphibian eggs have a symbiotic relationship with the pond’s algae. Vernal pond water tends to have low oxygen levels. Algae can live inside the cells of the embryo and during the day, through the process of photosynthesis, provide the growing embryos with oxygen. In turn, the nitrogenous waist produced by the embryos provides the algae with an essential element to plant growth.

 

Photos of Frog and Salamander Eggs in Connecticut

 

Below are a couple of pictures that we took in the field of the amphibian eggs we found in the nearby bogs and ponds of our area along with our best guess of what kind of eggs they are, but we’d love your input! Use the comment section to tell us about any eggs you’ve found or email us and send us pictures so that we can add them to our page.

 

Protect Connecticut’s Wetlands

 

We live in Connecticut because of its beautiful beaches, mountains, farmlands, woods and countryside, but it’s essential that we cohabitate responsibly with the other creatures that live here. Nature is like a house of cards and certainly one of the cards holding up most of the structure is our state’s population of amphibians. Several species of salamanders and frogs are already in steep decline due to the loss of habitat and death on roadways. If you are a parent with children, suggest a school field trip with an experienced extension officer to help both parents and children alike understand more about what’s happening in our precious Connecticut ponds, bogs and swamps. You might think that your property is insignificant in size, but if enough of us take care of our ‘own back yards’, we’ll make a dramatic impact on the health and wellbeing of our State’s habitat.

 

Three examples of eggs that you might find in a Connecticut vernal pond. Lower left are salamander eggs, perhaps those of the Red Spotted Newt, upper center are the eggs of Spotted Salamander, the large egg mass in the lower right portion of the photo is probably an egg mass from a Wood Frog

 

yellow spotted newt on the brookfield vet website

Egg mass of a Spotted Salamander. Use the link to have a look at this spectacular mole salamander, now in decline in Connecticut as traffic takes its toll when the creature decides to migrate en masse.

 

 

picture of frog eggs and aquatic red newt

The egg mass in the lower left of the photo is probably that of a wood frog. If it looks eaten away, you can thank a particularly heavy frost and the snacking appetite of the Red Spotted Newt shown in the upper right of the photo. Red Spotted Newts deposit eggs in vernal ponds, but also hang out there and dine on the eggs of other amphibians. Like most salamanders, this newt has an aquatic and terrestrial stage of its life. This newt’s eggs mature into a bright orange adolescent that lives 1 to 3 years of its life on land before returning to the pond where it was born and maturing into the aquatic version you see here.

 

A clump of salamander eggs in Connecticut pond

Now it’s your turn. Based on what you know about frog and salamander eggs. Which do you believe these are? Leave your answer in the comment section.

 

 

Salamander eggs on the Brookfield animal hospital website

Here’s another one for you to guess. Frog or salamander? Which do you think? By the way…wondering how such small creatures lay such BIG egg masses? Well, at the time they are deposited they are like a squished up sponge. Once laid, they quickly absorb water, and expand.

 

 

wood frog eggs on the Brookfield Animal Hospital Website

Last one. Frog or salamander? Hint: Don’t ‘freeze up’ on this question. Leave your answers in the comment section below

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