Common toad

Key information

Common toads vary from dark brown, grey and olive green to sandy-coloured. They have broad, squat bodies and warty skin. They tend to walk rather than hop. These toads are widespread and common in mainland Britain.

Common toads excavate a shallow burrow that they return to after foraging for prey. They secrete an irritant substance from their skin and puff themselves up to deter predators. Common toads tend to live away from water, except when mating, and hibernate during the winter in deep leaf litter, log piles and in burrows.

During mating, the male clutches the female from behind in a tight embrace. He fertilises the long, triple-stranded strings of eggs as she lays them among the waterweeds. Tadpoles hatch after about 10 days and gradually change completely, or metamorphose, into toadlets over two to three months. Common toads can live up to around 10-12 years.

What they eat:

Insect larvae, spiders, slugs and worms. Larger toads may take slow worms, small grass snakes and harvest mice.


Up to 13cm, females are larger than males.

Identifying features:

Natural habitats: Bog garden Flower border Hedge Herb garden Log pile Meadow area Pond Rock/stone pile Shed Woodland area

Where and when to see them

In and around the pond during the breeding season. Sometimes in the woodland area and other damps areas in the garden. Also in parks, scrubby areas, woods and fields, ditches, lakes and slow-moving rivers.

Common toads can usually be seen at night, very occasionally in the daytime after rain, from March to October.

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