Frogs , Toads and Newts


What's the difference?

Frogs and toads very similar but can easily be distinguishes . Frogs have more slender bodies, smooth moist skin and hop everywhere. Toads have more bulbous bodies, dry warty-looking skin and tend to crawl. The rare natterjack toad may be distinguished from the common toad by a yellow stripe down its back, and also by the fact that it is totally incapable of hopping. It has become so rare, and its special habitat threatened, the natterjack is strictly protected by law.


Newts can be seen by torchlight in the first two hours after dusk at pond margins, but only in the Spring during breeding and egg laying. For the rest of the year, newts take on a completely terrestrial way of life. In the UK, there are three species of newt. During the breeding season, the males grow crests on their backs which make the three species easy to tell apart - but only the males! The females all look quite similar as they don't have crests, but can be told apart by their colouration.

Besides differences in the adult animals, the spawn of all three types of amphibia have distinctive characteristics.Frog spawn and toad spawn are quite different to look at, and are found in different places. Even the spawn of the two species of toad are different. The eggs of newts are very rarely seen as they are laid on underwater plants.



Hibernation is a requisite for all amphibia found in Britain . Toads hide themselves away under piles of damp leaves, rotting logs and in crevicesand in underground tunnels as well as large piles of stone . Frogs occasionally hibernate in mud at the bottom of a pond but more often as described

In Spring, the amphibians emerge to migrate to their breeding grounds and spawn. This may occur as early as January or as late as April in some northern and eastern areas. Many frogs and especially toads have to cross main roads to return to their hatching ponds and are killed as a result. Toads tend to hibernate a long way from their breeding sites and so end up crossing roads more often than frogs.

During spawning For most of the rest of the year these animals are very unobtrusive and difficult to find.

Moving spawn

It is NOT recommended to move spawn at all, even from an apparently overcrowded pond. Let the spawn achieve a natural balance - "too many" tadpoles are a vital food source for many creatures, including themselves.!!

Other concerns about moving spawn are to do with possible diseases transfer and ispreading invasive weeds such as Crassula helmsii (Australian marsh stonecrop) and azolla (Fairy fern). If you have to transfer spawn because the site is being destroyed, please consult the conservation officer at the Trust for advice. NEVER transfer adult amphibians unless they are in immediate danger.

Garden ponds should ideally not have fish in as they eat tadpoles, be at least 60 centimetres deep for toads, should have gently sloping sides to allow new froglets to emerge from the water and also have plants in the water and round the outside of the pond to give adults shelter.


Life Cycles


A Frog Skeleton

Amphibia and The Law

Native amphibia are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. All amphibians are given some protection, but the natterjack toad and great crested or warty newt have been given special protection.

Unless you have a licence, it is illegal to offer for sale (which includes hire, barter or exchange) ANY amphibia. With the specially protected species, it is illegal to kill, injure or catch or attempt to do these things; or to have in your possession (unless legally obtained); or to sell; or to damage, destroy or obstruct any place being used for shelter or protection; or to disturb these animals. If you are found doing any of these things there is a fine of up to £1,000 for each animal involved. There are exceptions for accidental killings and for situations which could not reasonably have been avoided.

It is also illegal to introduce into the wild any non-native species as was done in the past with the African clawed toad and European tree frog. Even though these are locally established it is illegal to introduce more of them. This offence carries an unlimited fine.