Common toad Bufo bufo

Common toad. Photo by John WilkinsonThe common toad is the Island’s unofficial national animal and even sometimes its emblem: its local name, the crapaud, is the name that our neighbours in Guernsey call all Jersey islanders. Formerly widespread and common, numbers have declined substantially in the latter half of the twentieth century and there may now only be three natural breeding sites, in the west of the Island including among the wet hollows and streams at Les Landes.  Most toad breeding populations today appear to be in small, privately-owned, garden sites which frequently only support small (and possibly in the long-term non-viable) Les Landes toad site. Photo by John Wilkinsonbreeding populations of single numbers of spawning females. Toads can be found outside of their early spring breeding season all along the north and west coasts but away from Les Landes breeding opportunities are scarce.

Reasons for the decline of this species in Jersey are poorly understood but probably include a reduction in suitable breeding sites, either through availability or quality preventing reproduction in, or recolonisation of, water bodies. Changes in local conditions could possibly lead to the premature drying of breeding ponds and changes in land use and development may reduce connectivity between breeding sites. There may now also be genetic problems as a result of the isolation of very small reproductive populations breeding in small, private ponds. Increased predation from feral ducks and/or pheasants (on spawn, tadpoles and possibly metamorphs) may also threaten the toad’s survival.

Land restoration along our coasts will improve non-breeding opportunities for our toads and help maintain breeding populations at remaining natural reproduction sites.  The project will support and enhance these populations through appropriate action as required and may one-day re-establish this species at other suitably protected ‘natural’ sites.

You can read more about the common toad in Jersey and learn how you can help them at Toadwatch.