Toads are amphibians, breeding in ponds during the spring and spending much of the rest of the year feeding on dry land in woodland, gardens, hedgerows and tussocky grassland. The common toad is typically olive-brown, with warty skin and short back legs. Toads tend to walks rather than hop.
The common toad breeds in larger, deeper ponds than common frogs. They lay their eggs in long strings of spawn, wrapped around aquatic plants. Common toads 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.
Lifespan: up to 40 years but average 10-12 years
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Widespread but declining across the country. Found almost everywhere, except for Scottish Islands, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Isles of Scilly and most of the Channel Islands.
When to see
February – October
- Our cities and towns pose a threat to 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.