Warts and All


So far it appears to have been a very good  mating season for the thousands of Toads that live around Chorlton Water Park and the adjacent Mersey valley. The sheer spectacle of so many toads is one of the best wildlife experiences to be seen within the area and yet remarkably few people are even aware of it.

DSCF2066Male toads DSCF2056On the lookout for a mate
The larger female carrying around the smaller male
Remarkably the toads can stay in this embrace for several days
When attacked (on this occasion by a camera), the common toad adopts a characteristic stance with its hindquarters raised and its head lowered. As a defence against predators, the paratoid glands and the warts secrete a toxic, foul tasting substance, a bufotoxin called called bufagin.
Toads can live for up to 40 years and despite rumours you can’t catch warts off them.
Likewise the myth they possess magic powers such as the ability to change its shape is untrue.

Adults use the same pond year after year. The males arrive first and remain in the location for several weeks while the females only stay long enough to mate and spawn.

The males mount on the females’ backs, grasping them with their fore limbs in a grip that is known as amplexus. The males are very enthusiastic and will often mount on the backs of other males. Sometimes several toads form a heap, each male trying to grasp the female at the base. A successful male stays in amplexus for several days and, as the female lays a long, double string of small black eggs, he fertilises them with his sperm. As the pair wander piggyback around the shallow edges of the pond, the gelatinous egg strings, which may be 3 to 4.5 metres in length, get tangled in plant stalks. They absorb water and swell in size, and small tadpoles hatch out of the eggs after a fortnight to three weeks

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