Common toads are somewhat large, cumbersome animals by nature and are relatively slow moving. Nocturnal by nature these are usually only seen by day in the breeding season. Their diet consists of small insects. Common Toads are noted to hibernate under rotting vegetation or in the disused burrows of small mammals, etc.
Appearance EditThe Common Toad's skin is 'warty', this is less notable in breeding season when their skin appears 'sagged' and smooth. Their eyes are golden with a horizontal, elliptical pupil. Shortly behind the eye they have rather prominent paratoid glands, these secrete milky toxins when the animal is molested. Often drab brown in colour with white, black-mottled bellies thisspecies may have orange/red flecks or may indeed be bright green and yellow. In breeding season the animals are usually much lighter in colour, often appearing green and having black freckles along their body. The legs are short and so they prefer to crawl than hop. Their hind feet are webbed and the frong are not. Sexually dimorphic, males are much smaller than females, attaining 7-8 cm and females larger often attaining 9cm-13cm (snout to vent).
Male Toads become sexually mature in approximately 3 years, females 4-5 years. In Spring mature males will gather in great numbers in streams or rivers, this species apears to prefer breeding in moving water then still pools. Males rarely croak and only tend to do so when they are approached by another male. Males who are hoping to breed will develop enlarged nuptial pads on their front legs, these help to grasp females during amplexus. During amplexus, the female will lay a long string (up to 3 metres) of eggs amongst submerged, aquatic vegetation, in some weeks these will hatch and the tadpoles mature in to young toads; these in turn may 'migrate' in large numbers to more suitable grounds for hibernation.
Toad tadpoles are dark brown- black unlike Common Frog tadpoles. They are more free swimming but prefer to stay together in the shallows of the water body. The are also more vegetarian than frog tadpoles, eating algae and bread. Huge swarms of toad tadpoles can be seen where toads breed. A huge percentage of toad tadpoles metamorphosise as most predators are unable to eat them due to toxins in their skin.