Ringwood & Poulner Toad Patrol
To even become a toad, these beautiful creatures go through an epic metamorphic struggle. As babies they start off as spawn in ponds or any other sizeable body of water. Unlike the common frog, toad spawn is laid in strings, not clumps. Then they hatch into tadpoles / toadpoles. Over just a few weeks, they grow legs, change from vegetarian to carnivore, their tails shorten and they develop lungs. In the next 48 hours, they learn to breathe on land and to jump. Then they climb out of the edge of the pond.
If you find toads in your garden, and especially if you have a pond, there are things you can do to create a toad-friendly environment. Most important, make sure there are rocks in the pond so the toads can climb in and out. Also, leave a heap of old wood and fallen leaves so they have a good place to hide and hibernate in. Unlike frogs, toads spend most of their time on land.
Adult common toads hibernate over the winter, often under log piles or stones.
They have a strong migratory instinct and will follow the same route back to ancestral breeding grounds in Spring.
They’re most active at night when they hunt invertebrates including ants, beetles, snails, slugs and spiders. So despite their ancient associations with witches, the common toad is a gardener's friend.
Contrary to popular opinion toad skin is dry, not slimy.
Toads are between 8 and 13cm in length and they weigh up to 80g – but females are a lot larger than males. Their average lifespan is up to 4 years.
Common toads are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
But their numbers are declining – mainly because of habitat loss, and being killed on the roads. If you look carefully when driving through toad-dwelling areas on wet nights you can see them - but many drivers don't even think to look for them.