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Eastern Newts Dining on Wood Frog Eggs

4-28-15 newts2 329Wood Frogs mate and lay their eggs in ponds and occasionally vernal pools before heading back to their terrestrial, wooded habitat. Amphibian eggs are subject to predation by numerous predators, including leeches, fish, aquatic insects and salamanders. Eastern Newts (aquatic as larvae and adults) are carnivorous and consume insect larvae, fingernail clams, leeches and amphibian eggs, among other things. At this time of year, Wood Frog eggs are plentiful and easily accessible, as the individual masses, each consisting of 1,000 to 2,000 eggs, are deposited adjacent to each other on submerged vegetation. Hungry newts can feed for hours without moving more than an inch, and many often do. After discovering an egg mass, a newt plunges its head into the clump of eggs, grabs one and, with great shaking of its head, separates an egg from the mass and quickly swallows it. Seconds later the newt repeats this process, and continues doing so until it is satiated.

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7 responses

  1. Kathie Fiveash

    Mary, do you know if some or all the eggs in a cluster of wood frog or salamander eggs turn white, does that mean the eggs are dead and molding?

    April 28, 2015 at 10:27 am

    • Hi Kathie,
      I believe the white eggs are dead, most likely from either not being fertilized or being at the water surface during a freeze. There is green algae that sometimes gets inside the egg mass, and contributes oxygen to the eggs, but that is something totally different.

      April 28, 2015 at 4:17 pm

  2. I had thought wood frogs were considered an obligate vernal pool species?

    April 28, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    • Yes, Wendy, I think fairy shrimp, mole salamanders and the wood frog are considered obligate vernal pool species, but I’ve never understood why wood frogs are classified as such. While they seem to prefer vernal pools, they most definitely aren’t limited to breeding in them.

      April 28, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      • Thanks for the additional information. In the past, I assumed that when I heard wood frogs quacking, the sound must be coming from a vernal pool…from now on I’ll know better!

        April 28, 2015 at 10:04 pm

      • Peter Hollinger

        I think the term “vernal pool” is confusing. The name implies an ephemeral pool that dries up after spring, but a permanent body of water can serve the same ecological function if it has no fish. We have wood frogs breeding in a little cattail marsh that stays wet all year.

        April 29, 2015 at 11:13 am

  3. From what you said, Mary, it seems that wood frogs can successfully breed even in ponds that have fish in them?

    April 29, 2015 at 11:46 am

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