Helping amphibians to survive

ToadSwimmingToadwatch patrols will be operating during the spring migration at the locations listed on Where we Patrol - please see Froglife for Patrols outside of Norfolk.   Please see the Contacts page if you would like to help at a patrol or set up a new patrol.

People that help on patrols should either register on the Froglife Portal (the patrol manager will send an invite) or complete a Froglife insurance form - 

 - and return it to the patrol manager.  Each patrol will provide training but the notes below apply to most patrols.

What you need  – warm clothes, torch (good for 2 hours), bucket (clean with a little water in the bottom), hi viz jacket. Toads are harmless but you may want to bring gloves.   Some patrols recommend bringing a whistle to attract attention from other patrollers when help with lots of toads is needed.

Bio Security - if you go near to a pond or stream please consider whether you could be carrying any invasive species from another water source!   If you have been near the Broads then please make sure that your boots are clean and have dried off for at least a day - preferably wear different boots.   The Killer Shrimp is a particular risk.

When do toads move - The migration starts about mid Feb and lasts until early April.  The toads wait until it is dark and they think that they can't be seen before they move into the open.  Generally they move at dusk which is about 30 mins after sunset (see Met Office forecast for times and temperature forecast).  (In a few places where there are lots of trees near the road  the toads move earlier - each patrol gets to know the habits of their local toads). 

Toads can't generate their own body heat so they need weather to be suitable - they are more likely to move if it has been warm (above 10c) during the day.   Toads do not like to move in dry conditions so the wetter and more humid then the more likely they are to move.

Most of the patrols operate a rota system so that people work in pairs and are out for about an hour and a half on evenings to suit them.   There are relatively few evenings during the migration when it is both warm enough and wet enough to sure that the toads will be out.  Often it can be warm enough at dusk but the sky clears and the temperature drops quickly and the toads stop moving.  Occasionally we get warm, wet rain from the South West and the toads will continue to move all night.

Counting Toads - we keep counts of the toads, frogs and newts that we move from the road - both dead and alive.  We try to remove dead toads from the road so that they are not counted twice and to make it easier for drivers to see any live toads.  The counts are reported to Froglife and to the County Amphibian Recorder.   We count the toads that we don't save so that we have total figures for the toads arriving at the crossing and so that we can compare the ratio of animals saved to lost.   At some crossings the traffic is so continuous that it is difficult to remove the dead toads from the road.

Safety - Be aware of traffic at all times.   Don’t risk your life to save a toad – if you shine your torch on the toad then most drivers will stop for you.  Cover any cuts because of the small risk of soil borne diseases such as Tetanus.  There is a remote risk of infection with Lyme disease from deer ticks, tuck long trousers into socks and check for ticks afterwards (the disease starts like flu).  Be polite to car drivers; do not shine your torch in their eyes.   Take a mobile phone with you and make sure that someone knows where you are and when you should be back home.  Please tell the leader or another volunteer when you leave so that no one starts a search for you.  At some patrols there is a risk of falling into deep water when placing toads in the pond but most of the ponds are shallow at the edges.  Patrollers should work in pairs if there is a risk of drowning.

Children -  because we are patrolling on busy roads and in the dark we have to ask that anyone under 16 is accompanied by an adult who takes full responsibility for the child's safety.   If you are over 16 but under 18 please ask a parent/guardian to write on your insurance form that they are aware that you will be responsible for your own safety.