Why do frogs scream

info fauna
Coordination office for amphibian and reptile protection in Switzerland (karch)

Frogs croak. When you pass a pond on a Sunday stroll and the frogs croak, most people think that's nice. But if the frog quacks in the neighbour's pond at night and you can no longer sleep, the frog's quack can become a nuisance and lead to a burden on good neighborly relations.

What can be done in cases where the croaking of the frogs is perceived as annoying? The phenomenon has many facets. Here we offer a brief summary of the most important aspects.

The amphibious starting position

There are only three species in Switzerland that croak so loudly that they can be perceived as "noise nuisance": the two species of tree frog and the water frog. The tree frog, however, is rare and therefore rarely creates noise problems. Only the water frog regularly colonizes garden ponds and can therefore be perceived as a noise nuisance.

Water frogs croak persistently only during the breeding season. This lasts from April to June. In warm weather, crooks are used day and night. The more frogs there are, the more intense and persistent the croaking becomes, because the males stimulate each other.

Other frogs and toads croak too, but the calls are mostly quiet and are not classified as noise nuisance. If the pond is full of common toads and common frogs in spring, no loud frog croaking is to be expected in summer. Because common frogs and common toads migrate away from the pond after the spawning business and into the rural habitats.

The legal starting point

Frogs in the garden pond are considered wild animals. Therefore, from a legal point of view, they cannot be equated with other forms of noise such as lawn mowers or loud music. Amphibians are considered wild animals and are therefore allowed to move freely in our landscape. However, if the animals are exposed, the legal situation is different (exposures only legal with cantonal approval): The animal's habitat can be interpreted as a "facility" and the animal owners are also responsible for the residents entrusted to them and can be held accountable accordingly . For plants there are regulations regarding noise protection in the Environmental Protection Act.

Unfortunately, there are few meaningful court judgments. The vast majority of existing judgments deal with special cases that are difficult to generalize, such as the judgment of the Administrative Court of the Canton of Zurich of December 15, 1999. This is more a judgment on a procedural error than a general judgment on the subject. The tendency is clear, however: a garden pond owner cannot be obliged to remove frogs - wild animals - from his pond.

Like all amphibians, frogs are under protection and must not be caught, killed or injured. It is also forbidden to take the animals with you or to take them into custody. It is also forbidden to damage or destroy the “breeding grounds” (i.e. ponds). If a pond is destroyed, a replacement must be created (NHG Art. 18); in garden ponds, however, this is not handled so strictly. It is possible to apply for a permit to catch frogs and resettlement at the cantonal nature conservation agency. The addresses can be obtained from the KBNL.

Frog noise and neighborhood conflicts

If there is a quarrel between neighbors about croaking frogs, this is often not the first and also not the last neighborhood conflict. This should be kept in mind when trying to solve the "frog noise" problem. Even if the conflict is resolved, it does not mean a good relationship with the neighbor.


Measures - Help with croaking frogs

There are many measures with which a neighborhood conflict due to frog croaking can be resolved or defused.

  • Talk to the neighbor and find an amicable solution.
  • Change your attitude towards the noise of frogs! Whether or not noises are disturbing depends largely on the setting. This measure works immediately.
  • During the spawning season, sleep with the window closed, ventilate it with a window facing away from the pond, use ear plugs or something similar. It is also conceivable to choose another room in the apartment as a bedroom. This measure works immediately.
  • Remove floating plants in your pond. In this way you can make the pond less attractive to water frogs. This measure has a medium-term effect.
  • Install a small fountain to keep the water surface moving. This also makes the pond less attractive for water frogs. However, the splashing is also a noise. This measure has a medium-term effect.
  • If all of the above measures don't work (and only then!), You can try to catch the frogs (of course only with the approval of the cantonal nature conservation agency). The captured animals must then be released again at a suitable location. The location should be selected by an amphibious specialist and / or the cantonal nature conservation agency. It is not absolutely necessary to catch all frogs. If there are only single males at the pond, the amount of croaking is significantly reduced (because - as mentioned above - the frogs spur each other on when croaking). But depending on the neighbor, a single frog that croaks from time to time is not tolerable.
    We recommend that the frog catching is organized as a joint activity by the garden pond owner, noise-sensitive neighbors and amphibious specialist. A joint action shows the neighbor, for example, that it is not that easy to catch all the frogs.
    This measure has an immediate, but not necessarily sustainable, effect. If the frogs have colonized the pond by themselves, sooner or later new frogs will find the pond. The frogs may then have to be caught every year. It is advisable to fence the garden in such a way that the frogs can no longer easily get to the pond.
  • The last measure is to fill up the pond. However, this is not always possible, for example if it is a swimming pond. This measure works immediately.
    With this measure, however, it should be noted: The habitat of all amphibians, including silent species, is destroyed.