Where to find them
the natterjack toad is almost exclusively confined to coastal sand dune
systems, coastal grazing marshes and sandy heaths, though a single
colony has been found on an upland fell site in
Natterjack toads are often associated with ponds in sand dune slacks,
which are often more shallow and warm. Natterjacks require warmer water
in which to breed successfully.
Natterjack toads are
found on about 60 sites in Britain
and occur on a small number of sites in south-west Ireland.
Notable natterjack toad populations exist on the sand dunes along the Merseyside coast, the Cumbrian coast
and on the Scottish Solway. The natterjack used to be quite common on
the heaths of Surrey and Hampshire and also around the coast of East Anglia but sadly only one or
two colonies now remain. Re-introduction programmes have now started
to restore the range of this animal.
This rare toad is smaller than the more widespread common toad Bufo
bufo. Natterjack toads also exhibit a thin bold yellow stripe down
the middle of the back, and have notably shorter legs on which they walk
rather than hop. The natterjack gets its common name from the loud rasping call
made by the male in spring.
During the breeding season (April - July) males call from the edge of a
pond at night in an effort to attract a mate. Spawn is laid in single
strings (unlike the double string of the common toad), and similarly, the tadpoles are small
and black. They develop quickly and the yellow dorsal stripe is clearly
visible on the juvenile natterjack toadlets.
Threatened by habitat loss, the natterjack toad has declined in the last
century. As a result, the natterjack toad is strictly protected by British and
European law which makes it an offence to kill, injure, capture or
disturb them; damage or destroy their habitat; or possess them or sell
or trade them in any way. This also applies to larval stages and eggs.