Amphibians require suitable aquatic and terrestrial habitats to support them. Their eggs are laid in water and the larvae develop there. Outside the breeding season adults and juveniles spend much of their time on land where, generally, they need damp or humid conditions to prevent water loss; some species can tolerate more water loss than others. Basic requirements for amphibian habitats are:

  • Suitable water bodies for egg-laying and development of larvae.
  • Shelter from excessive heat, dryness and predators.
  • Suitable foraging areas and sufficiently large populations of prey species.
  • Suitable hibernation sites.

Management objectives

The goal is to develop a population on a site that is secure and self-sustaining in the long term. Management of a habitat should therefore aim to maintain:

  • Ponds with a sunny aspect, suitable depth and amount of aquatic vegetation.
  • A terrestrial habitat vegetation structure appropriate for the species concerned.
  • Unpolluted water and water table.
  • Open areas within habitats to allow sunlight to reach ground level.
  • Continuity of sufficient and appropriate habitat over time.
  • Hibernation areas.
  • Connectivity at a landscape level of areas occupied by amphibians.

Management should also avoid:

  • The introduction of fish to ponds used by amphibians.
  • Using ponds to support large numbers of wildfowl.
  • Activities that damage the terrestrial vegetation structure that amphibians require.
  • Pond management during the amphibian breeding or hibernation seasons.
  • Activities that can cause direct killing or inuring of animals or significant disturbance.

Landscape connectivity

To be most effective, features occupied by amphibians need to connected - for example, a field pond should be surrounded by tussocky vegetation, allowing the amphibians to easily reach the hedgerows and therefore surrounding habitats such as woodland and other ponds.

Natterjack habitat

Natterjacks have a much more restricted distribution and very different habitat requirements from other amphibians. The surrounding habitat needs to be more open and the ponds generally shallower. Indeed as other amphibian species out-compete natterjacks it is often important that the habitat should not be too favourable for the more widespread species.


Gardens and other open areas in urban and suburban environments such as school grounds and allotments provide valuable habitat for many species of amphibian, particularly the smaller newt species and common frogs, though common toads and even great crested newts do occur in these areas. Garden ponds are valuable features for conserving amphibians in urban and suburban areas and can help form important wildlife corridors. For more information download the Dragons in your Garden leaflet

Sustainable urban drainage schemes

Many opportunities exist when developing drainage systems to create habitats that benefit amphibians. These include road sides, industrial sites, service areas, schools and housing developments. Sustainable urban drainage schemes not only create pond and wetland habitat but importantly avoid features such as 'gully pot drainage' and high kerbs that can trap or restrict movement of amphibians.

For more in-depth information take a look at our Amphibian Habitat Management Handbook