Frequently Asked Questions Ponds


Frequently Asked Questions - Ponds

Q. I need to drain my garden pond. What is the best time to do this work?

A. There is no good time to drain or infill a pond as there are always animals or insects using it. Frogs can hibernate at the bottom of ponds in the winter as well as breeding in the spring and summer. If you can retain your pond, or create a substitute in another part of your garden to transfer your plants and animals to this is preferable.

If there is no option to infilling or draining a pond then try to wait until late autumn when many animals will have bred and dispersed but before it gets too cold. Look through any vegetation for frogs or newts that may still be present and place them somewhere safe from the elements or predators within your garden. A pile of logs or large stones under the shelter of a hedge or trees is ideal. NEVER transport plants or animals to other ponds as you may spread disease or unwanted invasive species to these water bodies. Remember that great crested newts are a protected species and you should contact Natural England for advice if you need to work on a pond where they are resident.

Q. I have too much frogspawn or tadpoles. Should I take them to another pond?

A. Animals and plants should NEVER be transported from one location to another as this can introduce disease or unwanted and highly invasive species to an area. While a pond may seem to have ‘too many’ tadpoles, this is a natural part of amphibian breeding ecology. It is estimated that only 0.5% of tadpoles survive to adulthood so there needs to be a huge number of tadpoles at the start of the season, to allow the species to survive. Leave your spawn or tadpoles where they are and they will find their own balance as the season progresses.

Q. My pond has frozen over with frogspawn in it. Should I bring it inside until it is warm again?

A. Some frogspawn is lost to early frosts every year but more will be produced as the breeding season progresses so there is generally no need to ‘rescue’ frogspawn.

Q. I have seen a frog that is a strange colour. Is this unusual?

A. Common frogs appear in all sorts of colours, some quite striking. Red, green, brown, orange or creamy yellow are all regularly seen. The main identifying features of common frogs are dark, almost triangular patches behind the eyes, and a stripy colouration on the legs. If your frogs seem excessively large and noisy, particularly at dusk and into the night, they may be marsh frogs and should be reported to Froglife.

Q. I have a dead frog in my pond. Should I report it?

A. Frogs do die of natural causes throughout the year so it is not unusual to find the occasional dead frog. There are diseases which affect frogs however, the most common being ranavirus, which is sometimes known as ‘red leg’. Unfortunately recognising the disease is not as straightforward as the name would suggest, and the reddening of the skin on the legs is not always present. If you see a number of dead frogs in your pond, regardless of any red colouration to the legs, or if you witness a number of animals looking lethargic or emaciated, it is worth contacting Froglife for further guidance or to report your concerns.

Q. Where can I find information about how to create or manage my pond?

A. Pond Conservation is an organisation devoted to the protection and good management of ponds. Look on their website for guidance about suitable plants, timing of works, construction and general best practice.

Q. Fish are being taken from my pond and eaten. What is causing this and how do I prevent it?

A. Fish in ponds are vulnerable to a variety of predators. If you are close to a watercourse or ditch it is possible that a mink or otter may be using your pond as part of its territory. Look for any droppings around the pond and email a photo to the Wildlife Trust for identification. If your pond is small enough it may be possible to net it off to prevent access to the water. This will deter most birds from fishing and can be effective against mink and otters. If losses continue, contact us for further guidance.

Q. I know of a pond with great crested newts that is threatened. Who do I report this to?

A. Great crested newts are fully protected in law. If you suspect that an activity is taking place that directly threatens a population you should make your concerns known to the person undertaking the work – they may be unaware of the presence of newts – and inform Natural England if the work continues. A full survey will be required to confirm newt presence, however this can only be undertaken in spring and summer so work may need to be interrupted until this information can be gathered.

A licence is required to do any work that may impact on great crested newts or their habitat and Natural England are the only body able to issue such a licence. For further information on licencing for great crested newts, check the Natural England website -