Nice weather … if you’re a toad
Posted 12/10/2020 : By: Will & Sarah Draper
People often ask us why there is a road sign depicting a toad just a few metres up the road from Badwell Ash Holiday Lodges. Well, the rain over the last couple of weeks has certainly answered that question: it has brought the frogs and toads out for a last feeding session before the serious business of surviving the winter begins. This part of Suffolk is blessed with a tremendous variety and quantity of frogs and toads. The road signs are located wherever a road is crossed by upwards of 1000 frogs or toads, a fabulous sight usually in early spring as they seek ponds and lakes in which to breed.
I am sure we all remember collecting frogspawn in jam jars as kids, but in many parts of the country those days are gone – frogs and toads are disappearing fast as habitat is consumed by housing developments, migration routes are blocked by roads, breeding ponds dry up through water extraction, and water is poisoned by agricultural run-off. One study across 150 sites found that numbers had plunged 68% in the last three decades.
We’re doing our bit to look after our frogs and toads at Badwell Ash. For instance, we have a lot of log piles around the site which are deliberately placed to act as shelters for all manner of creatures through the winter months. Hedgehogs, voles, insects of all descriptions, bees, spiders, slow worms, snakes, and frogs and toads too. They are all looking for somewhere to partially or fully hibernate away from the worst of the weather. In the case of frogs and toads they don’t fully hibernate, but being cold blooded means their bodies take on the temperature of their surroundings and their metabolism slows right down: they eat very little and may not move much at all until the spring. We also leave the margins around the lakes to grow wild without too much mowing or strimming. This gives the frogs and toads plenty of space to forage, find mates, and take cover from predators such as the beady-eyed heron that regularly patrols the site.
Frogs and toads are very resilient and numbers will bounce back if they are given enough space. They are incredibly well camouflaged as we have discovered via several near misses when mowing and moving logs, and can even adapt their colouration to match their surroundings – hence the leafy green colour of the frog, and the dull brown of the toad in the pictures (all taken here on site). Toads can live more than 10 years and have even been known to freeze solid in winter and come back to life once they thaw in the spring! So, we love our amphibians here at Badwell Ash Holiday Lodges and hope to see their numbers increasing.