From the team at BBC Wildlife Magazine

How do warm winters affect hibernating toads?

Toads spend the winter underground, but what happens when our winters are warm?

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Toads use their back legs to 'knead' their bodies into the soil, submerging themselves completely when the days get shorter and nights turn colder.


There is increasing concern that this could pose problems for the animals in milder conditions.

Toads are cold-blooded, and in warmer winters their bodies metabolise at a faster rate, burning up fuel that would otherwise be used to prepare for spring-time mating.

Indeed there is some evidence that warmer winters are already having an impact.

In one long-term study involving a large population of toads in the south of England, higher temperatures correlated with a reduction in body size in females, resulting in fewer eggs being laid.

How the UK's frogs and newts might be affected is as yet unclear.

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Main image: Common toad, Bufo bufo, adult in grass meadow, Yorkshire, UK. © Mark Hamblin/Getty


Jules Howard is a zoology correspondent, naturalist and author of more than 10 books including The Wildlife Pond Handbook. He writes for a number of publications including The Guardian, Science Focus and BBC Wildlife Magazine.


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