Common toad

©Jon Hawkins Surrey Hills Photography

Common toad

Scientific name: Bufo bufo
Despite its warts and ancient associations with witches, the common toad is a gardener's friend, sucking up slugs and snails. It is famous for migrating en masse to its breeding ponds.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 8-13cm
Weight: up to 80g
Average lifespan: up to 40 years

Conservation status

Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

February to October

About

Common toads are amphibians, breeding in ponds during the spring and spending much of the rest of the year feeding in woodland, gardens, hedgerows and tussocky grassland. They are famous for their mass migrations back to their breeding ponds on the first warm, damp evenings of the year, often around St. Valentine's Day. Common toads tend to breed in larger, deeper ponds than common frogs, but still frequent gardens. They hibernate over winter, often under log piles, stones or even in old flower pots!

How to identify

The common toad has olive-brown, warty skin, copper eyes and short back legs. It walks rather than hops, and lays its spawn in long strings around aquatic plants, with two rows of eggs per string.

Distribution

Found almost everywhere, except for Scottish Islands, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Isles of Scilly and most of the Channel Islands.

Did you know?

Our cities and towns pose a threat to common toads; busy roads often block migration paths, making it difficult for them to reach their breeding ponds. In Oxfordshire alone, the roads are littered with 20 tonnes of unlucky toads every spring. If more than 1,000 toads are known to hop across a road in a particular spot, it is dubbed a 'toad crossing'.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way. Encourage toads and other amphibians into your garden by having a wildlife-friendly pond and leaving piles of logs for hibernating animals. To find out more about gardening for wildlife, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started, at www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk.