It was a humid Monday morning when I stumbled upon this warty little creature, hidden under an old, rusty roofing panel. Introducing the Common Toad, recognisable by its lumbering walk or large warts that cover its mottled skin, it is usual to find one of these creatures lurking in your garden or local pond. Females can grow to thirteen centimetres, males only eight but when either become threatened these animals can produce a toxin through their skin, making them unappetizing to predators. They can communicate by a high pitch ‘squark’ which distinguishes this species from other amphibians.
However, unfortunately, these animals are thought to be decreasing throughout the wild in Britain. This is due to disruption of migration paths and pond loss, which sustains their breeding and juvenile. As well as this, larger predators, like the otter, have been praying on Common Toads after, finding it was possible to remove the toxin from the toad’s skin. So go outdoors and enjoy them in their natural environment while you can, let’s hope these beautiful animals never leave our planet.
Finding a toad to photograph was pleasing enough, however, it was when I spotted the Palmate Newt, that really made my uncomfortable, humid walk worthwhile. Palmate newts are considered rare in some places due to habitat loss, but this tiny juvenile was spotted in a curled up ball, within some moss whilst exploring the stunning grounds of the National Trusts Gibside. To have never seen such a tiny little newt before, I just had to whip my camera out and take some shots.
Palmate newts are incredibly similar to the species of Smooth newts, this made it very hard to identify which species this tiny little creature belonged to. This juvenile was only three centimetres, however, adults grow to three times that size. They prefer their whereabouts to be in acidic ponds, bog land, moorland and heathland. They aren’t very active during the day as they also prefer cooler, darker hours. Males perform courtship dances to win over the females in Spring, which then wrap their eggs in pond leaves and weeds to protect them against harm. When eggs hatch they enter the next step of life, being a larva. Larvae of the Palmate newt grown to about three to four centimetres and have frills around their head, until they begin metamorphosis, in which the frills are absorbed into the body. Autumn is the time where they leave the pond at the end of their process as newtlets/efts.
Newts are fascinating creatures, joined by the Common Toad, and need to be protected. Luckily in many places newts and other Amphibians are, leading to a less endangered species so we can enjoy them for longer.
Thank you very much for reading
NOTE: If you ever pick up a frog or other amphibian please be careful. These animals can easily be harmed, if not picked up carefully and should always be placed back where you found them. Thank you.