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 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.
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 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.
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.