The common toad (Bufo bufo) is a widespread amphibian found throughout Britain. Common toads are absent from Ireland.
Common toads prefer deeper water bodies in which to breed. These may include farm ponds, reservoirs, fish ponds or village duck ponds. Sadly these types of freshwater body are threatened in many parts of the UK.
Common toads can grow to 8cm, and are generally brown or olive-brown. The skin is ‘warty’ and often appears dry. Glands in the skin contain powerful toxins and many would-be predators learn to avoid eating toads. Toxins are also present in the skin of the tadpoles.
Common toads have a strong migratory instinct and will follow the same route back to ancestral breeding ponds each spring. They congregate at these ponds in early spring, often a couple of weeks after common frogs breed. After a relatively short breeding period (often not more than a week) adult toads migrate away from ponds, being far more tolerant of dry conditions than the common frog.
Common toads are most active at night when they hunt invertebrates including snails, slugs, ants and spiders. If they find a good source of food they can become sedentary. Indeed they may often remain in gardens for long periods in the summer months. Unlike the common frog, toadspawn is laid in strings (not clumps) and toad tadpoles are black and form shoals. Toadlets can emerge from ponds in huge numbers during early summer, usually after heavy rain.
In Britain, the common toad is protected by law from sale and trade.