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Take action for frogs and toads

Did you know the once common toad is in trouble? Populations have declined across the UK by 68% over the past 30 years, along with a 17% reduction in common frog sightings in gardens between 2014 and 2018.

Much of this decline is thought to be due to habitat loss. Most farms used to have ponds that were used as sources of water but as farming has intensified many of these ponds have been filled in or reverted to scrub. Further breeding habitat has been lost due to the draining of land for building on and pollution of some water bodies.

Frog populations appear to be doing better in towns and cities and this is no doubt down to the great habitat that can be created in our gardens. It’s easy to create a small pond and frogs can thrive amongst our flower beds and under our hedges. Toads will sometimes use a greenhouse and it’s amazing where newts turn up too! They’ll repay the favour by providing some free pest control – they love slugs!

How to help Frogs, Toads and Newts
Create a garden pond:
Frogs and newts will happily use small ponds – even an old kitchen sink will do! They don’t need to be huge or deep; shallow-sided wildlife ponds that do not contain fish are best. You’ll be amazed at what else they attract, from bathing birds to dragonflies and beetles. If you’re worried about pets or children you can fence the pond in or put a cover over it, but often with a shallow-sided pond children soon learn about water and how to behave around it. It can be an important life lesson in their own back garden, with you supervising.
Here’s Freshwater Habitats step-by-step guide to making a pond. Our local Wildlife Trust has great advice for creating a mini pond.

Add a log pile or hibernacula: Most amphibians only spend a small part of the year in ponds and need other sheltered habitat for the rest of the year. Even if you can’t have a pond, you can provide good habitat for them by creating a log pile or placing logs under the base of a hedge or back of a flower bed. A pile of large flat stones can be a great home for a toad and I’ve found many newts hiding in piles of bricks!
A hibernaculum is a purpose-made place for amphibians to hibernate – crucial for them to survive from year to year and easy to make. Find out how here.

Create wild areas for amphibians to hide and feed: Amphibians need somewhere to hide and to feed, so areas of longer grass and flower beds play a critical role in helping them thrive. Combined with any of the other features you’ll be creating a paradise for frogs, toads and newts.

Wild Wantage images ©Mark Bradfield / Lucy Duerdoth