During a recent bat and dormice survey conducted by the University of Cambridge and Froglife, volunteers were surprised to find common toads living in nest boxes and tree cavities.


50 records of common toads were found in these surveys, but the number could be much greater, due to the fact that the surveys do not regularly look in tree hollows higher than 3m up a tree.

The exciting discovery of arboreal behaviour in common toads means that tree cavities might represent an even more important ecological feature than conservationists thought.

Toad with leaves in wooden nest box
Common toads have been found in nest boxes/Credit: PTES

“We couldn’t believe what we found. We’re used to discovering woodland birds and other small mammals in nest boxes but we hadn’t considered finding amphibians in them,” said Nida Al-Fulaij, Conservation Research Manager at People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), who supported the research.

Why toads are climbing trees and using nest boxes is currently unknown, though factors could include searching for food, avoiding predators, and evading parasites.

Two common toads
Common toads have decline 68% over the last 30 years across the UK/Credit: Henry Andrews

Froglife research in 2016 showed that common toads have declined by 68% over the last 30 years across the UK. The recent findings highlight the importance of protecting our remaining natural woodland habitats, especially ancient trees with veteran features – such as hollows and cracks – for all wildlife.

Froglife are calling on members of the public to record any sightings they have of amphibians in trees on their Dragon Finder App.


Top image credit: Getty Images


Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.