By Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

Despite their lumps and warts and ancient association with witches, common toads are great friends to gardeners. They spend their days hoovering up slugs and snails, and right about now you may start to see them hopping into the garden or through the countryside as they make their way to a nearby pond.

Having spent the winter nestled out of harm’s way under log piles, stones, or even in old flowerpots, toads emerge on the first warm, damp evenings of the year – any time from January onwards – to migrate back to their breeding ponds.

Toads in danger

Toads are creatures of habit and tend to travel along the same route every year regardless of what hazards gets in their way. This can sometimes lead them towards busy roads, which can inevitably result in grave danger and many casualties. 

Thankfully, thousands of toads are saved every year by heroic Toad Patrollers; volunteers who see toads safely across busy roads. 

If you would like to help toads survive their crucial migrations, you can volunteer as a Toad Patroller with Froglife. There is lots of information on how to get involved on their website.

Once the toads have safely arrived at their pond, the amorous amphibians go about their noisy and sometimes boisterous courtship over a couple of weeks. Female toads then lay their spawn in a long, ribbon-like string of eggs that are wrapped around pond vegetation.

Witnessing these eggs in nature is a fascinating wildlife experience, but always avoid the temptation to move or collect spawn. Doing so could inadvertently introduce amphibian diseases to wild populations.

With the eggs successfully laid, the adult toads hop off again, leaving their tadpoles to fend for themselves.

From tadpole to toad

Over the spring and summer, the tadpoles eat and grow. Going from vegetarians to ravenous carnivores and exchanging their tails for legs. By July, they are ready to realise their amphibious nature and leave water to make their way onto land.

If you find a pond from which toadlets are emerging, be sure to tread carefully. They are very well camouflaged, and you may not spot them until they leap in the grass ahead of you!

After a busy summer, the toads start preparing again for winter, and so the cycle continues.

If you would like to encourage toads into your garden, building a pond is a great way to start. 

Find out how to create your own wildlife-friendly pond by visiting the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust website at