Get involved in the PondNet Spawn Survey 2024

4th December 2023

Freshwater Habitats Trust is asking everyone to help protect the nation’s much-loved amphibians by spotting frog and toad spawn.

Each year since 2012, people across the country have taken part in the survey by recording Common Frog and Common Toad spawn they have spotted in their garden, community ponds, or in the wider countryside.

Freshwater Habitats Trust has traditionally opened the survey in January, but the 2024 PondNet Spawn Survey will launch on 1st December because of sightings coming in earlier each year.

Close up of frog spawn in a ditch with vegetation behind.

- Frogspawn at Three Lochs, South West Scotland. Photo by David Bairn

The Trust is asking everyone across the UK, no matter whether they have a pond of their own or a chance encounter, to take part in the survey by recording spawn whilst out and about in their local area. Anyone can upload their PondNet Spawn Survey data, on the Freshwater Habitats Trust website.

The 2023 PondNet Spawn Survey was the most successful yet, with 1,410 records from across Britain – the highest number gathered since launching the survey in 2012.

Last year, the first Spawn Survey sighting was recorded on the Isles of Scilly in late December. Other records set by last year’s survey include the earliest sighting in Scotland to date, in Wigtownshire, Southwest Scotland, on 3rd February. Hampshire also saw its earliest record on 9th January.

Common Frog underwater, side on.

- Common Frog. Photo: Kate Wright.

Each year, all of the PondNet Spawn Survey records go to the Record Pool. This is the UK’s dataset on herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) run by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) and Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG UK).

This is very important because it means that each Spawn Survey record is added to a national dataset and helps to build a picture of how and where amphibians and reptiles are living in the UK. This dataset is made available for national and local conservation purposes, so the PondNet Spawn Survey records could make a real difference for amphibians. Large datasets, particularly when they span decades, are invaluable for wildlife conservation.

Freshwater Habitats Trust Technical Director Dr Naomi Ewald said: “The PondNet Spawn Survey is fantastic because it is so accessible. We have made the survey as simple as possible and we know that people of all ages take part, with many people getting their children involved. Some people just check their garden ponds, while others use the survey as an excuse to get out and enjoy a countryside walk. And, of course, frogs and toads are very loveable creatures, so people really enjoy connecting with them by looking out for spawn and tadpoles.

“I believe the public support that we have achieved shows how much people care about native species, like the Common Frog and Common Toad. The PondNet Spawn Survey helps us understand more about their breeding habits and demonstrates to more people that frogs and toads do not just breed in ponds – they need the whole diversity of the freshwater environment to be healthy including ditches, puddles, and boggy ground.

View Spawn Survey records
Volunteers surveying pond

“Around 80% of the freshwater environment is made up of smaller waters and they make up a vital part of the habitats available for amphibians, including the Common Toad, which is now classed as an ‘at-risk’ species.  Ponds and other small freshwaters have traditionally been overlooked but they are the unsung heroes of the freshwater environment, supporting more biodiversity than large waterbodies. By taking part in the PondNet Spawn Survey, people are helping us to understand more about the ways in which wildlife uses small freshwaters.”

Freshwater Habitats Trust is asking anyone taking part in the survey to share their love for toads, frogs and other freshwater life by posting photographs and videos of frog and toad spawn they have spotted on social media, using the hashtag #SpawnSurvey. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Add your record
Toad Spawn

- Common Toad spawn. Julia Page.

Spawn facts

  • Amphibians live on land for much of the year but return to ponds to breed in spring. This means waterbodies can become extremely crowded.
  • Frog spawn is laid in big clumps, whereas toad spawn forms long chains.
  • Toad spawn is generally laid in deeper water than frog spawn.
  • A single frog or toad will lay thousands of eggs. This is because eggs and tadpoles are very vulnerable to predators, so only a few will survive and become adults.
  • It takes between two and four weeks for spawn to hatch and tadpoles to emerge.
  • Freshwater Habitats Trust has a wealth of information on creating and managing ponds for wildlife on its website.  The charity also offers a free booklet, Creating Garden Ponds for Wildlife, and publishes The Pond Book, the most comprehensive guide available to creating and managing ponds.