Herpetology - the study of amphibians and reptiles

The Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita)

The Natterjack Toad is one of only two native species of toad found in the UK. It is readily identifiable by three characteristics by which it differs from the Common Toad (Bufo bufo).
Once again its prime habitat is dry lowland heath and coastal dune systems. It is mainly nocturnal, scouring the ground for the various invertebrates on which it preys. Typically it never enters water other than in the breeding season. At that time the males congregate in shallow ponds - using sometimes brackish wet slacks in dune systems - and call loudly for females from the shelter of reeds etc growing around the pond edges.

Apart from all the normal problems with habitat a further problem from which these toads suffer is the ephemeral nature of their breeding ponds which often dry out before the toadlets can metamorphose. Their stronghold is in the North-West stretching up to Scotland. There are also colonies on the East Coast.

Male Natterjack Toad calling

Natterjack Toads calling in amplexus- (c) John Burnham

Until a few years ago, only one small colony remained in the South - and this on the brink of disaster. Again, thanks to management and reintroduction there are now further colonies and this delightful little toad has a slightly less precarious foothold.