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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

01 May, 2014

Common toad: warts and all!

It is not difficult to distinguish the common toad (Bufo bufo) from a frog; it is much darker in colour, often brown or verging on black, and has a warty skin, frogs are much greener, often two tone in colour and have smooth skin. They are very different in other aspects too, shape, size, etc.
Much less common than they once were, toads are probably more
frequently found in gardens with ponds than they are 'in the wild'. That said, although they are inhabitants of gardens they are primarily nocturnal and can find some pretty obscure and safe places to pass the day time and so you may have toads in your garden and never know it. Your best chance of seeing them is in March and April which is when they return to the pond of their birth to breed.
Apart from the breeding season they rarely go in to ponds, other than if they need to cool down. They live mainly on dry land and can roam quite a long way from their 'home' pond so if you do find one in your garden it does not necessarily mean their pond is yours or your neighbours. They dine on slugs and other invertebrates and so can be considered a gardener's friend.
Our perception of toads seems to be a mixture of connections with witchcraft (the witches in the Scottish play use toad parts if I recall, or was it in A Midsummer Night's Dream?) to the endearing Toad of Toad Hall in the Wind in the Willows! We can also refer to people we are not happy with as toads! 
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