Froglifer Cacey has spotted them emerging from her pond in Northampton already – tiny toadlets! Having spent the last few weeks developing from toadspawn strings in the water, it’s getting to the time of year when juvenile toads will lose their toadpole tails and can hop away into the undergrowth. Adult toads, like our mascots Widdy and Wigbert, have done their work, making all the threats they faced along the way worthwhile as the next generation springs into life.
When they first emerge, toads are roughly the size of a one pence piece and a generally a pebble grey colour. It will be a number of years before these tiny toads return to their breeding ponds to lay their own spawn, and become part of the mass migrations Toad Patrollers work so hard to protect. Froglife trustee Rob Oldham has been studying the toads in his pond for over 20 years, and found that male toads reach maturity and return to the water to breed after an average of two years, and female toads return after an average of three.
|A tiny toadlet heads off into the world|
This summer’s toadlets will spend the next few years hunting for invertebrates in the undergrowth and keeping safe in dark and shady spots like log piles, compost heaps or under garden sheds. Whilst frogs may visit ponds throughout the year, in order to cool off or search for a meal, toads are very much land-based creatures and may not to return to water at all between spawning seasons.
Like frogs, toads lay large amounts of spawn with only a small percentage making it to adulthood. Out of all those strings and blobs of spawn it is estimated that only 5% will leave the water, and only 5% of these survive to breed. And that’s before they have to cross busy roads on their way back to their favourite ponds.
There are a number of things you can do to help toads give them a fighting chance of survival:
• Watch out for tiny toads underfoot or when mowing your lawn
• Create a log pile or a rockery to give toads somewhere to hide and to hunt
• Leave areas of long grass and other plants to create shelter
• Avoid using slug pellets or other chemicals
• Create a pond – don’t forget to plant right up to the edges to stop tiny toadlets drying out in the sunshine when they first leave the water. You can find more pond tips here
• Become part of our Tuppence a Toad Campaign here
• Find out more about Toad Patrols and how you can get involved here
• Make a donation to Froglife here
So, keep an eye out for toads, great and small, and do let us know about your sightings! You can share your toad stories here.
You can support our work conserving reptiles and amphibians like toads for as little as £1.50 a month. Sign up as a Froglife Friend and help save species and habitats here.
Photo: Jules Howard