Common Toads, Bufo bufo, and How to Help Them.

by Judith John.

Common toads spend the winter lying dormant in places such as compost heaps, beneath log piles or in crevices in walls, sometimes coming out to forage for invertebrates. They are generally nocturnal and emerge from 'hibernation' on damp, mild nights when the temperature is above 5 degrees Centigrade. In the Bromley area this is typically in February but will vary from year to year.

When they are mature enough to breed (2-3 years old) they return to the pond where they were originally spawned. Males often start to move first and will wait around the pond for females to arrive and then climb on their backs. When they are returning to ponds many are killed on roads. Toadspawn is laid in long ribbons around pond plants, in deeper water than frogspawn. Toadlets leave ponds in large numbers over a few days in summer.

Common Toad, Bufo bufo. Photo by Bill Welch. Common Toad, Bufo bufo. Photo by Bill Welch.

Toads spend most of their lives on land, living in scrub, woodland, beneath hedgerows or in coarse grassland feeding at night on insects, worms, slugs and other invertebrates.

According to Froglife, toad populations in south-east England have fallen by more than 68% since 1986.

Records of toads in the London Borough of Bromley submitted to the Bromley Biodiversity Partnership Species and Habitats Sub-Group in 2017 show that there are breeding ponds in High Elms Country Park, gardens in Newstead Avenue near Newstead Woods, and West Way Petts Wood. Records of toads in terrestrial habitat suggest it would be worth looking for breeding ponds in the Keston Common/Padmall area, around Belmont Lane and Bull Lane allotments Chislehurst, the Covet Wood area, near Lower Chesham Allotments Elmers End, Crystal Palace Park, Bromley Hill cemetery, The Knoll in Hayes, Westgate Road in Beckenham, Manor Park Road in West Wickham and Green Street Green.

The toad survey is being repeated in 2018 with posters going out earlier than in 2017, in the beginning of February, with emphasis on finding more ponds where toads may be breeding. This will enable us to look at any problems the ponds may have and problems the toads may have regarding the roads around them.

Threats to Toads

The following measures could help toads in Bromley:

1. Plant more native species in gardens and encourage others including schools and sports grounds to plant hedgerows of native species and leave areas of grass uncut during the summer. This would help to increase prey items available for toads because the invertebrates they eat tend to be adapted to live on native species rather than exotic plants.

2. Decrease pesticide and herbicide use and encourage others to do the same.

3. Have a wild area in your garden or local park with some scrub, a log pile and a pond.

4. When toadlets are emerging from ponds stop cutting or strimming grass in this area for a week or so until they have disappeared.

5. Consider contacting Froglife regarding helping toads cross roads: see Froglife's Toads On Roads page.

6. Continue to send records to


To see or download a poster about helping toads, please click here:

     Downloadable Toad Poster

This article is copyright © Judith John 2018. The photograph is copyright © Bill Welch 2015.