Toads are in trouble!
Common Toad Bufo bufo
Common toads spend the winter lying dormant in places such as compost heaps, beneath log piles or in crevices in walls, sometimes coming out to forage for invertebrates. They are generally nocturnal and emerge from ‘hibernation’ on damp, mild nights when the temperature is above 5 degrees Centigrade. In the Bromley area this is typically in February but will vary from year to year. When they are mature enough to breed (2-3 years old) they return to the pond where they were originally spawned. Males often start to move first and will wait around the pond for females to arrive and then climb on their backs. When they are returning to ponds many are killed on roads. Toadspawn is laid in long ribbons around pond plants in deeper water than frogspawn. Toadlets leave ponds in large numbers over a few days in summer. Toads spend most of their lives on land, living in scrub, woodland, beneath hedgerows or in coarse grassland feeding at night on insects, worms, slugs and other invertebrates.
According to Froglife, toad populations in south-east England have fallen by more than 68% since 1986.
Threats to Toads
· Loss of suitable ponds
· Loss of suitable terrestrial habitat (scrub, rough grassland, hedgerows, walls with crevices)
· Habitat fragmentation: death on roads
· A decline invertebrate prey
· Pesticides (indirect effect: decline in invertebrate numbers, direct effect: build up of pesticide within toads from having eaten poisoned invertebrates).
The following measures could help toads in Bromley:
1. Plant more native species in gardens and encourage others including schools and sports grounds to plant hedgerows of native species and leave areas of grass uncut during the summer. This would help to increase prey items available for toads because the invertebrates they eat tend to be adapted to live on native species rather than exotic plants.
2. Decrease pesticide and herbicide use and encourage others to do the same.
3. Have a wild area in your garden or local park with some scrub, a log pile and a pond.
4. When toadlets are emerging from ponds stop cutting or strimming grass in this area for a week or so until they have disappeared.
5. Consider contacting Froglife regarding helping toads cross roads: see www.froglife.org/what-we-do/toads-on-roads
6. Continue to send records to firstname.lastname@example.org