It’s Spring, the time of year when toads emerge from hibernation and are on the move towards their ancestral breeding ponds. This often entails crossing roads, and sadly, when toads cross roads, toads get killed. What at first glance may be a stone, leaf, or clod of mud, could in fact be a toad. If you see one, gently pick it up and place out of danger, preferably in the direction they are facing. It is helpful to cup them from their front — that way they can’t leap from your hand.
Where I live in Somerset, hundreds cross our main village lane once nighttime temperatures rise above 5°C. It’s already begun. Last year was a scene of carnage; squished toads littered the lane. It was a disturbing sight, and this year I have vowed to do more.
To me, toads are beautiful. Olive-green with speckled ‘warty’ backs, and shining, ovate amber eyes that stare right back at you. Perhaps its their gentleness and vulnerability that make them special. Every year they return to the same breeding pond, along the same routes. The males are the first to venture out, waiting by the ponds where they piggy back on passing females. Lazy toads… The females then lay long strings of spawn (unlike the clumps that Common Frogs lay) and so require ponds of some depth. Unfortunately though these breeding ponds are being lost, and along with road deaths, this means our toad population is declining. On average toads have declined 68% over the last thirty years in the UK. We must do what we can to help preserve this precious gardener’s friend.
What can we do?
- Don’t run them over. Stop the car, pick them up and place out of harm’s way.
- If you have toads in your area, raise awareness, put up a “TOADS, SLOW” road sign, make some flyers.
- Start a TOAD PATROL — a community effort to rescue your local toads, armed with buckets and fluorescent jackets.
- Register your migratory crossing with the TOADS ON ROADS project run by the charity FrogLife.
- Make your garden toad friendly with a pond and places to hide and hibernate.
Credit and thanks to Froglife for the information contained within this post.