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The Common Toad (Bufo bufo)

Common Toad (Bufo bufo)

Copyright Howard Inns 

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(Call recordings 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 prohibited.