Why do toads choose to cross our roads?
Although it sounds like the beginning of a joke, unfortunately there isn't a funny punchline to answer that question. Toads are rather particular about where they breed and they annually migrate back to their ancestral breeding ponds regardless of any dangerous infrastructure that may have appeared. In March this leads to large numbers of toads crossing potentially busy roads to reach that special pond.
Although something we do every day, for toads crossing the road, it is a perilous journey. The threat of oncoming cars, falling down drains and struggling to climb up tall curbs causes problems for the unsuspecting amphibians who just want to make it to their breeding ponds safely. It is estimated that a staggering 20 tonnes of toads are killed on UK roads every year.
How did the toad cross the road?
What is the difference between frogs and toads?
Toads have olive-brown warty skin whereas frogs have smooth skin which can vary in colour from green, brown to red or yellow skin.
Walk vs Hop
Toads have much shorter back legs than frogs so they tend to walk rather than hop along.
Frogspawn vs Toadspawn
Toads lay their spawn in long strings around aquatic plants, usually with two rows of eggs per string. You are probably more familiar with large clouds of jelly like frogspawn!
What species of toad are crossing Nottinghamshire's roads?
Toad crossings in Nottinghamshire are to allow Common Toads (left image) to reach their breeding ponds without being harmed by passing cars.
There are only two species of toad in the UK, the other being the Natterjack Toad (right image). Natterjack Toads are much rarer and are only found in a handful of coastal locations in England and Scotland. They are much smaller than common toads and have a distinctive yellow strip down their back.
This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the worlds first road closure with the sole purpose of helping toads. Back in 1999 a Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust life member, Margaret Cooper, along with a band of toad crossing volunteers campaigned to get a road in Oxton, Nottinghamshire closed for the toads. With the help of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust the closure was secured and has been closed every March since thanks to fundraising efforts which cover the cost of the signage, fencing and ensure the safe closure of the road.
You can also donate £5 by texting TOAD to 70085
Did you know?
Unlike frogspawn, toadspawn is poisonous to fish. This means that tadpoles can survive in larger breeding ponds which may be home to more predators.