In the UK, we have an amphibian that is quite different to our other native amphibians. Naterjack Toads (Epdalea Calamta), are rare and are protected. Usually found confined to isolated coastal areas, their natural habitat which they prefer are coastal marshes, heath land and sand dunes. Naterjacks are quite distinguishable from our native Common Toad as they have short legs and walk rather than hopping. They also have a rather distinct yellow line which runs down the centre of their backs. Naterjacks grow to a length of 8cm and can live up to 15 years. Feeding on woodlice, moths, insects and slugs throughout the summer months, they will then hibernate in self excavated burrows and sometimes in burrows that have been previously occupied by rodents.
Naterjacks naturally live in small colonies, so it is therefore essential for them to make a lot of noise when attracting a mate. Their loud, rasping croak can be heard miles away. Breeding takes place from April to July over 2-4 months, much the same as our Marsh Frogs. They seek out natural warm pools with shallow margins that are covered in aquatic vegetation and marginal plants. Females can lay up to 7,500 eggs which are laid out in single strands. If you are ever lucky enough to stumble upon these creatures, please remember they are protected and interfering, capturing and harming their environment carries a heavy fine.
Here’s to our wonderful and captivating little friend, the Naterjack!