Priority species healthcheck
A rare species - brought back from
extinction in Wales
The natterjack toad grows up to 6 or 7 cm in length,
is pale brown in colour with greenish patches and
a distinctive yellow stripe down the spine. It can be
distinguished from the common toad by its smaller size, paler
colouration, and shorter hind legs. The natterjack has a
tendency to run instead of hopping or walking, which is why it is
sometimes called the running toad.
Natterjack toads emerge from hibernation as early as March
and as late as June. The males make their surprisingly loud
croaking call in the afternoon and evening and often after
rain. In Wales, mating and spawning takes place in shallow,
warm pools in sand dunes, which help speed up tadpole development.
Each female produces 1500 to 7500 eggs.
Adults retreat into burrows during warm weather and emerge
at night to feed on insects, molluscs, woodlice and
other invertebrates. They also travel down to the
strand-line to find food such as sandhoppers and other marine
Hibernation takes place in burrows, usually excavated by the
toad, but they are known to use the burrows of other animals such
as rabbits, rodents and even sand martins.
Natterjack toads have never been common in the UK and loss of
their heathland and sand dune habitats and the drying up of
suitable ponds has contributed to their decline. The toad is now
severely threatened across much of its European range.
In the 1960s the natterjack toad became extinct
in Wales due to habitat destruction, but it was subsequently
re-introduced to Talacre Warren and Gronant in north-east Wales.
The population is now spreading naturally along the dunes between
the two sites. Plans are being made to reintroduce it to other
sites along the Dee estuary.
Information supplied by www.arkive.org and CCW publication -
Amphibians in Wales.
Status (Legal protection)
- Species of principal importance in
- UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority
- Schedule 5 Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981
- Appendix II Bern Convention
- Annex IV EC Habitats & Species
- Schedule 2 The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations
Information from www.arkive.org and www.jncc.gov.uk.
Status, trend, target and threat information comes live from