Thousands of toads at risk as migration starts early this year

John Heaser, Norfolk Toadwatch co-ordinator, at the pond at Little Melton, warning drivers to keep a

John Heaser, Norfolk Toadwatch co-ordinator, at the pond at Little Melton, warning drivers to keep an eye out for toads crossing roads as they are migrating early this year. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Thousands of toads risk being killed on our county's roads after starting their migration earlier than ever before.

The amphibians usually wait until mid-February before coming out of hibernation to begin searching for a mating partner.

But the mild weather throughout January and this month has fooled them into starting sooner.

It means that thousands of the creatures are at risk of being run over as they begin crossing roads during peak traffic times.

John Heaser, Toadwatch co-ordinator, said: 'It is a bit of a disaster around here because the earlier they leave in the year, the earlier dusk is and the more traffic there is on the roads.

'Toads have an unfortunate habit of sitting on the road because the males think they can catch females as they come by. But it means that in a rural area a single car can literally kill hundreds of them.'

Mr Heaser said the creatures tend to leave the safety of the undergrowth to cross just after dusk falls.

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But the earlier in the year they migrate, the more likely they are to move during the evening rush hour.

Once the toads come out of hibernation they make their way to the nearest pond in order to find a mate.

But Mr Heaser said they were having to travel much larger distances as their habitats were being destroyed by development.

There are now 18 toad watch patrols across Norfolk that aim to help the creatures migrate safely.

Armed with buckets, signs and high visibility jackets, they can pick up hundreds from the county's roads in a single night.

Mr Heaser, 63, of Little Melton, said: 'There is a good reason why we do it, one is to preserve the species and the other is that people don't like to see toads mangled up on the roads. Every pond needs its toad patrol because they don't stand a chance now with the continuous traffic.'

To find out more about toadwatch or to become a volunteer visit

Have you launched a group to support wildlife in your area? Call Luke Powell on 01603 772684.

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