The common toad (Bufo bufo) is not native to Ireland and a recent illegal addition to our amphibian fauna. There are currently two known populations on the island, one of which is established and breeding.
Common toads have a wide native distribution, found throughout Britain and most of Europe, except Iceland and some Mediterranean islands. Unlike our native Natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita), common toads prefer to live in habitats with some canopy cover and are particularly fond of woodland edges, hedgerows and gardens. They are more tolerant of drier conditions than common frogs and therefore can be found a good distance away from wetland and boggy areas. Like our native amphibians, they must return to the water to breed in the Spring.
The common toad has non-specific habitat requirements for breeding, being able to tolerate large deep pools and the presence of fish. This tolerance of fish is likely a result of the tadpoles being unpalatable due to toxins in their skin. Their breeding season typically occurs between March and April, during which time, adult toads will migrate en masse to their breeding grounds. This is when most large-scale mortality events occur as they cross busy roads and lanes. It is also likely that many individuals succumb to predators and traffic while moving back towards feeding grounds post-breeding season and also when newly metamorphed toadlets migrate away from their natal ponds. Unlike the common frog, common toad spawn is laid in strings rather than clumps.
Even though many people are familiar with this species, it is regularly confused with the common frog (Rana temporaria). However, the most prominent and distinguishing character of the common toad are the large, oval-shaped parotid glands at the back of the toad’s head.
The common toad is in decline throughout much of its range with the British population thought to have declined by up to 30% over the last three decades.
Their impact on Irish native wildlife and ecosystems is unknown.
*A huge thank you to ARGsUK for use of their identification key