Garden survey reveals sightings of frog and toad are drying up

Jess Barrett

Wednesday 20 June 2018

RSPB Giving Nature a Home Campaign, 'Frog Face' TV advertisement

  • Survey results released today of more than 10,300 Scottish gardens reveal that sightings of frogs and toads have declined.
  • Disappearance of garden ponds and pools has long been a factor in the declining numbers of the amphibians.
  • RSPB Scotland is challenging families to take part in the Wild Challenge by getting outside and creating a simple pond or DIY pool in their outdoor space. 

Survey results released today reveal that sightings of our amphibious garden wildlife such as frogs and toads are drying up, with RSPB Scotland calling on people to help them by getting outside this summer to create more ponds and pools in their outdoor space.

Results from the RSPB’s wildlife survey, which is part of the conservation organisation’s Big Garden Birdwatch, show that frogs had been seen in more than 60 per cent of gardens across Scotland. They were seen at least monthly in over a quarter of gardens. However, these regular sightings have fallen by five percent since the last time they were surveyed in 2014.

This pattern was similar for toads who were seen in 17 per cent of our outdoor spaces on a monthly basis, down from 25 per cent four years ago. Only half of those who took part reported seeing a toad in their garden in the last year, a fall of seven per cent. The survey included results from more than 10,300 gardens across Scotland. 

At a quick glance a nature novice may not be able to spot the difference between a frog and a toad. A frog’s skin is smooth and moist and they have a pointed nose, whilst a toad’s skin is warty and dry and their noses are rounded – almost semi-circular in shape.

James Silvey, RSPB Scotland’s Species and Habitats Officer said: “Many of us may have childhood memories of watching tadpoles swimming about in ponds or spotting toads hidden away under rocks – early encounters with nature often stay with us for a lifetime. Sadly, such experiences are becoming less common with children spending less time outdoors.

“As frog and toads are amphibians they need a nearby source of water close to their homes to survive. It’s very easy to give them a helping hand by creating a small pond, or using a washing up bowl to make a pool away from sunlight and well covered with plants. These simple tasks to help them can have a positive impact on a whole range of garden wildlife too.”

Other results from the survey revealed a small increase in the number of recorded sightings of hedgehogs. Despite the UK population suffering widespread declines in recent decades, 62% of people in Scotland spotted one in their gardens over the past year.

Foxes remained one of the other most common garden visitors with one being seen in 70 per cent of our gardens and outdoor spaces.

The survey also reflected Scotland’s place as a stronghold for red squirrels. Across the UK just six per cent of those taking part had seen one of these mammals in their garden in the past year, while in Scotland 37 per cent reported they had.

Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s largest garden wildlife survey and takes place each year on the last weekend in January. The conservation organisation asks people to count the birds in their garden or outdoor space over the course of one hour at any point in the weekend to get an idea of how our feathered friends are getting on.

With the wildlife on people’s doorsteps becoming increasingly elusive, RSPB Scotland is calling on families to spend more time outside this summer, discovering the nature that surrounds them and seeing how they can give it a helping hand.

By taking part in the RSPB’s Wild Challenge, families can have fun engaging in activities ranging from building a pool for amphibians to bug safaris, taking their first steps on their own wild adventure. There are 24 activities to choose from that will take you from your own back garden to exploring towns, cities, woodlands and even the coast.

Jasper Hamlet, RSPB Scotland’s Youth and Families Officer said: “With the school summer holidays just around the corner this in an ideal time for families to get involved with our Wild Challenge and discover more about the wildlife around them. Spending time outdoors is really important for every child and the activities help guide them to find out more about wildlife and how they can help give it a home.”

The conservation organisation’s ambition is for Wild Challenge to help more families across the country reap the benefits of spending time outside in nature. Research has shown that children who have a healthy connection to nature are more likely to benefit from higher achievement at school, better mental and physical health, and develop stronger social skills.

To learn more about the RSPB Wild Challenge and to see how you can take your firsts steps on your own wildlife adventure, visit 

Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

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