Frogs and toads

The common frog and the common toad are found throughout Britain. The natterjack toad is now rare and fully protected by law and is mainly confined to some coastal sand dunes and lowland heaths.

What's the difference between frogs and toads?

Common frogs:

  • have smooth, moist skin which is not slimy
  • have special glands to keep the skin moist and supple - this helps them to 'breathe' through their skin as well as their lungs so that they can stay underwater for a long time
  • are mottled shades of green, yellow or brown
  • have a distinct brown patch behind the eye
  • move in springy leaps lay spawn in clumps.

Common toads:

Adult common toad being released into wild © RSPCA
  • have a dry warty skin which means they can't 'breathe' through their skin as well as frogs, but they can survive on land in drier place
  • are usually grey-brown
  • crawl rather than hop
  • lay long, double row, strings of eggs.

Natterjack toads:

  • have a yellow stripe down their back
  • often run quite fast
  • lay long, single row, strings of eggs.

A gardener's friend?

Both frogs and toads eat a lot of beetles, bugs and woodlice and the frogs will eat a large number of slugs and snails, whereas toads favour ants.

Don't be surprised if frogs or toads are found in greenhouses. They are attracted there by the warm, moist conditions and will live in a greenhouse quite happily, eating the insects and other small creatures that live there too.

Helping frogs and toads in Spring

Pond owners may find large amounts of frogspawn at this time of year and it can make the water look overcrowded but it's nothing to worry about.

Annual migration of toads to breeding sites

Each spring, toads may be seen migrating in large groups and over distances of a kilometre or more to return to their pond to breed. At this time, toads are vulnerable when crossing roads, with many being squashed by cars.

People can help by carefully carrying the toads across the road; many areas organise toad patrols. Other measures can be taken and details of these can be obtained from the Toads on Roads project.

Find out more about Britain's amphibians and how you can help (PDF 456KB)

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