Saturday, 6 January 2007

Another hibernator.

Another interesting creature, which, like the newt, is also in its Winter hibernation, and which we occasionally come across, is the Common toad. It likes to sleep by day and hunt for its food at night. We sometimes find one hiding in the outhouse behind a pile of terracotta pots or stones. They like dark places.

When we go out to work in the garden, we often sit down at the back door to pull on our wellies, leaving our slippers on the step. One day one of our sons had an exciting surprise at the end of the day, when he went to put on his slippers, for there, hiding in the toe, was a toad.

They are darker in colour than frogs, more brown than green, and have blunter faces and fatter bodies. Their skin, which is dry and warty-looking, is shed several times each Summer. They scrape off the old ones and eat them.

In Spring, the toads can travel for up to ten days to reach their breeding ponds. They mate like frogs, but lay their eggs in ribbons about two metres long. We find evidence of these ribbons of each year though we haven’t actually seen toads mating, unlike their more gregarious and noisier cousins, the frogs.

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