The Question: Just wondered what sort of toad/frog this is. I spotted it in my garden this morning. It’s a greeny/brown colour with black mottled markings on its back. At the top of its back legs are two large red lumps, very odd looking.

Submitted by: Kevin, South West England

The Short Answer: This is a common frog (Rana temporaria). True to its name, it’s the most common frog throughout the British Isles and most of continental Europe. The large dark patches on either side of the head are distinctive. The “mottled markings” on the back are highly variable, ranging from faint spots to nearly contiguous black.

Warning for those who are easily grossed-out! As for the red lumps, I’m afraid those are the poor frog’s intestines. I’m going to guess it was run over by a car or bike or stepped on, or possibly attacked by a predator like a bird. (Kevin confirmed that the frog did not look well.) Animals can show amazing stoicism in the face of such injuries. If we think about it in terms of survival, what good does it do to wail and writhe around when you are in pain? That would simply advertise your plight to every predator in the neighborhood and seal your fate. Instead, badly injured animals often simply try to crawl off quietly to recover. I suspect this poor frog is beyond that, however.

Kevin told me he moved it off into the bushes. Not much else you could do for it, I’m afraid. Hopefully, it died fairly quickly.

[It’s a tough time for frogs on  I just posted something yesterday about beetle larvae that kill and eat frogs!]

More Information: Kevin also noted that there are no ponds nearby that he is aware of, so he wonders where the frog came from. Some frogs basically never leave the body of water where they breed. Common frogs, however, range quite a ways. They can be found in nearly every habitat in Europe, including fairly dry ones, though they must return to water to breed in the spring. The common frog is one of the few amphibian species that doesn’t seem to be suffering from shrinking populations, in part because they are so flexible about habitat. They seem to thrive in environments that have been shaped by human activity. They are very common in gardens, for example.

For more information on Rana temporaria, here are a couple of authoritative websites: