Sightings of frogs and toads in gardens are decreasing, according to survey results released today. The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch tracked sightings of these amphibians in gardens across Britain. Worryingly, there was a 17% reduction in regular sightings of common frogs in gardens between 2014 and 2018. For common toads, there was a 30% reduction. The survey included results from more than 174,000 gardens.

Whilst frogs are still found regularly in almost 40% of gardens, and toads in 20%, these figures raise concerns about the status of our widespread amphibians. This survey does not tell us exactly why the sightings are dropping off, and we need more research to confirm whether the results reflect actual population declines. Yet the results are consistent with the pressures that we are all too aware of: frogs and toads visiting gardens are vulnerable to habitat loss happening in nearby countryside, the infilling of garden ponds, tidying up of gardens, and diseases.

Further monitoring programmes and research will help us get to the bottom of what’s happening. In the meantime, there are tried and tested actions you can take to help frogs and toads: if you have space, dig a pond for them to breed in. If you already have a pond, manage it with amphibians in mind. If you’re short of space, let part of your garden grow wild to provide shelter for amphibians. Ensure amphibians can enter and leave your garden easily – create small gaps at the bottom of fences if necessary. ARC’s website has a wealth of advice on how to help frogs and toads – hop to our “Dragons in your garden” leaflet for tips on making your backyard even more frog-friendly!

Dr Karen Haysom, ARC's Species Programmes Manager said: “Frogs and toads face many pressures including the loss of habitat like ponds.  Helping these fascinating creatures by making wildlife habitat in your garden or taking part in species recording and monitoring schemes so we understand how nature is faring is fun and can make a difference.”

ARC is working with RSPB on the amphibian and reptile components of the Big Garden Birdwatch. The results released today are a welcome reminder of just how many people care about animals in their gardens. Gathering results from such a large number of people helps us gauge the state of Britain’s wildlife. For more on the latest results, see:

ARC is dedicated to helping all native amphibians – from common frogs in gardens to our rarest species, the pool frog, which occurs at only two sites. You can get involved or support us in many ways.