New research published today, on 7th July 2022, in PLOS ONE has discovered the extent to which common toads live in trees. It is the first time that the tree climbing potential of amphibians has been investigated at a national scale.
Researchers from Froglife and the University of Cambridge, supported by wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), made the surprising discovery when common toads were found in nest boxes and tree cavities by volunteers who were looking for hazel dormice and bats as part of the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme (NDMP) and the Bat Tree Habitat Key project (BTHK).
Common toads are regarded as typical terrestrial amphibians and as such are known to spend their time both on land and in water during breeding. To date there have only been a handful of documented sightings of common toads in trees.
Consequently, common toads and in general UK amphibians have never been surveyed for in trees, unlike bat and dormouse surveys which specifically target such habitat. This study highlights the importance of sharing data between conservation organisations representing different species, and shows that there’s a lot to learn about wildlife in the UK – even those we think of as well-known.
Nida Al-Fulaij, Conservation Research Manager at PTES said: “We couldn’t believe what we found. We’re used to discovering woodland birds and other small mammals in nest boxes but we hadn’t considered finding amphibians in them.”
Over 50 records of common toads were found in surveys of hazel dormice nest boxes (located 1.5m above ground) and tree cavities usually used by bats. The highest record of a toad was found 3m up a tree. The surveys do not regularly involve looking in tree hollows much higher but there’s a chance that toads might be venturing even further up. Many of the cavities were small or not visible from the ground, so it is unclear how toads are finding them and how difficult it is for them to climb particular trees.
Posted On: 07/07/2022