Bufo bufo

Where to find them

The common toad is a widespread amphibian found throughout mainland Britain and on many islands, such as the Isle of Wight. In Jersey (Channel Islands), the similar-looking Jersey toad (Bufo spinosus) is found. 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 and toads have been declining, especially in the southern half of Britain.


Males can grow up to 8cm and females up to about 10cm. Common toads are generally brown or olive-brown in colour, but are very variable; females are often reddish or have reddish warts. 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 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 ants, beetles, snails, slugs 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 rain.


In Britain, the common toad is protected by law only from sale and trade, but is a biodiversity priority species under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act (2006) because of recent declines. This means that the species should be considered during planning and development.

Photo gallery