Epidalea calamita | Natterjack Toad



Conservation status

Future ProspectsInadequate
Overall  Assessment of Conservation StatusBad
Overall Trend in Conservation Status Improving
Source: NPWS 2013.

IUCN Conservation Status

Ireland (1)
Endangered [B2a,b(iii)]
Europe (2)
Least concern 
Global (2)
Least concern 
Sources: (1) King, J.L et al 2011; (2) Beja P. et al, 2009.

Legal status

Protected by the following legal instruments:

  • Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) Annex IV
  • Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) Appendix II
  • Wildlife Act (1976)
  • Wildlife (Amendment) Act (2000)

Native status


Species Biology


  • One of only three native Irish amphibians and the only toad.
  • Adult male length to about 70mm, females slightly more.
  • Warty dorsally due to skin-surface glands.
  • Adult ground colour varies from pale green to black with darker brown or red-brown markings dorsally, and always with a sulphur yellow central dorsal stripe.
  • Paler below, particularly towards the front.
  • Iris is yellow with black veination.
  • Crawls or runs rather than hops.
  • Black eggs laid in a single row string amongst aquatic vegetation.
  • Amphibious.
  • Generally nocturnal.
  • Adults hibernate in Winter.
  • May burrow in sandy soil, or shelter under vegetation debris diurnally and seasonally.

Sources: King, J.L. et al 2011; T. J.C. Beebee 2002; Gent T. and Gibson S., (eds.), 2003.

Preferred environment



Open habitats with shallow ponds. In Ireland native populations are very much coastal and associated with sand dune systems. Shallow ponds that dry out in summer are valuable but shallow permanent ponds or lake edges are also used. Other reported habitats include lowland heath, lowland bog , wet grassland, amenity grassland and dis-used quarries.

Habitats include but are not necessarily limited to;

  • Sand dune systems (CD)

  • Wet grassland (GS4)
  • Amenity grassland (improved) (GA2)
  • Dry calcareous heath (HH2)
  • Lowland blanket bog (PB3)
  • Mesotropic lakes (FL4)
  • Other artificial lakes and ponds (FL8)

Sources: King, J.L. et al, 2011; Beebee T.J.C., 2002; Fossitt, J.A., 2001.

Life stages


  • Mating occurs April – May.
  • Males call loudly to attract females.
  • Females lay a single strand string of up to 7000 eggs which are fertilised externally by the male.
  • Hatching occurs usually within 10 days.
  • Metamorphosis from tadpole to toadlet takes about 6-8 weeks.
  • Sexual maturity is usually after the second year.
  • Life span is on average 7-8 years although females can live to 13 years.

Sources:  Beebee, T.J.C., 2002; Gent T. and Gibson S., (eds.), 2003.

Threats faced

Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazingA04.03High
Water abstractions from groundwater
Infilling of ditches, dykes, ponds, pools, marshes or pits
Species composition change (succession)
Invasive non-native species
Saltwater intrusion

Habitat loss is considered one of the main threats for the Natterjack toad. The lowering of water tables in some areas has had a negative impact on breeding due to water availability. The lack of grazing has a negative influence on the ease of accessibility in relation to foraging. Desiccation and the expansion of recreational “caravan parks” in some areas will cause further habitat loss. The spread of the invasive species New Zealand Pigmyweed (Crassula helmsii) may become a serious problem for the Natterjacktoad in the future.

Source: NPWS 2013.

Conservation actions

In the Article 17 Habitats Directive reporting for the period 2007-2012 no Conservation Measures in place or in the process of being implemented during the period were listed for this species, however in the accompanying notes it is stated that;

  • 'Continued intervention, including the creation of more ponds and, potentially, targeted spawn translocations, will be required'.

Source: NPWS 2013.


World distribution(GBIF)

A native European species with native records from the following countries: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Repubic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany,   France, United Kingdom, Ireland,  Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Spain,Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine.

Source: Beja P. et al, 2009.

Accuracy of world distribution shown in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) map below will be constrained by, amongst other factors, data held but not shared by countries and organizations not participating in the GBIF.

Irish distribution

The distribution map shows restricted and confined range of the species. Found only in the South West in Kerry and a translocated population in Wexford.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2020

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.

How can you help

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is trying to improve our knowledge on the distribution of the Natterjack Toad in Ireland. Should you observe the Natterjack Toad, please submit sighting to add to the database. Detailed observations will assist us gaining a better insight into where Natterjack Toad is most abundant in Ireland and we might also be able to detect regional variations. Please submit any sightings and photographs at:

All records submitted on line can be viewed on Google Maps – once checked and validated these will be added to the database and made available for conservation and research.

Further information

For further information contact Dr. Liam Lysaght



Beebee, T.J.C. (2002) The Natterjack Toad Bufo calamita in Ireland: current status and conservation requirements. Irish Wildlife Manuals, No. 10.

Beja P., Kuzmin S., Beebee T., Mathieu D., Schmidt B., Tarkhnishvili D., Ananjeva N., Orlov N, Nyström P., Ogrodowczyk A., Ogielska M., Bosch J., Miaud C., Tejedo M., Lizana M., Martínez-Solano I., 2009. Epidalea calamita. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 08 January 2015.

Fossitt, J.A. (2001) A Guide to Habitats in Ireland. The Heritage Council.

Gent T. and Gibson S., (eds.), (2003). Herpetofauna Workers Manual. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough.

King, J.L., Marnell, F., Kingston, N., Rosell, R., Boylan, P., Caffrey, J.M., FitzPatrick, Ú., Gargan, P.G., Kelly, F.L., O’Grady, M.F., Poole, R., Roche, W.K. & Cassidy, D. (2011) Ireland Red List No. 5: Amphibians, Reptiles & Freshwater Fish. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dublin, Ireland.

NPWS (2013) The Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland.  Species Assessments Volume 3. Version 1.0. Unpublished Report, National Parks & Wildlife Services. Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dublin, Ireland.