Western toad/Jersey crapaud
The crapaud or western toad (Bufo spinosus) is widespread in the Iberia and western France but in the Channel Islands it is found only in Jersey. Small populations are also found in north Africa. Declines here have been paralleled by similar reports from e.g. Spain. The toad, which walks or hops rather than jumps as frogs do, is brown or olive in colour and has a warty skin, which tends to be drier than that of frogs.
Toadspawn is usually laid in the spring and in Jersey appears as early as January. It is laid in long strings of perhaps thousands of small black eggs enclosed in clear jelly. It can be distinguished easily from frogspawn, which is produced in small clumps.
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Healthy toad populations are important to gardeners and farmers, as they can consume many thousands of insect pests and therefore reduce the need for chemicals.
The toad, once a familiar sight in island ponds, is more commonly known in Jersey as the ‘crapaud’ - its name in the local patois, Jerriais. In recent years, however, the crapaud has been disappearing from the natural areas where it was once common, although it is known that many private garden ponds still host healthy populations of toads. For this reason the exact conservation status of the crapaud is unclear, and we need islanders’ help to establish where it is still thriving.
The Toadwatch campaign is hosted by the Jersey Biodiversity Centre; local people can report sightings and numbers of of toads appearing in their garden ponds on-line. This will help us to monitor the species’ population and take action for its conservation in Jersey.