Common toad

Latin name: Bufo bufo

Length: Adults 15-20cmcommon toad

When: Early spring until October

Where: Ponds and surrounding areas

Sadly the most common place to see a toad is often when it has been squashed on the road in early spring. Toads have traditional routes which they follow from their winter hibernation sites to their breeding ponds - and the small matter of a now-busy road in the way won't deter them. On warm, damp spring nights hundreds may set off together to breed, and many perish on the perilous journey.

Those that survive will mate and produce rows of pearly strings of eggs, quite unlike the frogs' jelly-like masses, though both go on to hatch into tadpoles. At first glance frogs and toads may seem quite similar, but a closer look will reveal their differences. Toads have dry-looking, lumpy skin which produces a toxin that most potential predators find very unpleasant. Frogs have moister, smoother skin with the hint of a shine. If you see them move you'll notice that frogs hop away while toads crawl.

Despite the toads' defences some animals seem unbothered by their nasty taste - hedgehogs and snakes will happily make a meal of them. However a lucky toad that avoids both natural and man-made hazards can live for up to forty years.

Find out more at:

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust

Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods