The Common Toad (Bufo bufo)
Copyright Howard Inns
to hear a Common Toad calling
by kind permission of, and copyright of Dr Julia Wycherley)
The Common Toad is a
widespread amphibian found throughout Britain although absent from Ireland. It can grow to 8cm, and is generally brown or olive brown and young
specimens are often brick coloured. The
skin is warty and often appears dry. Glands
in the skin contain powerful toxins and would-be predators quickly learn not to
attempt to eat toads. The Common
Toad can be found in almost any habitat and is common in gardens. It prefers larger water bodies in which to breed and, because toxins are
also present in the skin of the tadpoles, they are able to breed in ponds and
lakes containing fish which learn to avoid the distasteful tadpoles.
Common Toads congregate at breeding ponds in early April but for the rest
of the year will wander well away from water as they are far more tolerant of
dry conditions than the Common Frog.
Common Toads feed on any
moving prey small enough for them to swallow.
They are most active at night when they will wander about in search of
food. If they find a good source of
food they can become quite sedentary. Their
life cycle is similar to that of the Common Frog, spawn is laid in strings (not
clumps like the Common Frog) and the tadpoles are black and often move about in
shoals. The toadlets emerge in
August usually after heavy rain and in huge numbers.
At this stage of their lives they are extremely small and speckled with
gold. Common Toads can live for many years, captive individuals have reached the
age of 50!
In Great Britain, the
Common Toad is protected only in as much as sale and trade in any form is
The HCT's logo is based on an original
drawing (which can still be seen on older HCT stationery) of a
Common Toad, drawn by the wildlife artist Edward Wade.
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