Frog and toad welfare

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. On this page, we'll take you through how to tell the difference between frogs and toads and how to help the amphibian friends in your garden.

Helping frogs and toads in spring

If you have a pond in your garden, you may find large amounts of frogspawn at this time of year. 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.

You can help by carefully carrying the toads across the road; many areas organise toad patrols. For more advice on how to help toads during their migration, take a look at the Toads on Roads project.

What's the difference between frogs and toads?

Our amphibian friends may look similar, but there are a few key differences you can look out for to tell them apart.

Common frogs:

  • Have smooth, moist skin, which isn't 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 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 and lay spawn in clumps.

Common toads:

  • 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 places
  • Are usually grey-brown
  • Crawl rather than hop
  • Lay strings of eggs in long, double rows.

Natterjack toads:

  • Have a yellow stripe down their back
  • Are speedy - they often run quite fast!
  • Lay strings of eggs in long, single rows.

Frogs and toads: a gardener's friend?

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

Don't be surprised if you find frogs or toads in your greenhouse. They're 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.

Find out more about Britain's amphibians and how you can help them.

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