Toads sleeping in their nest boxes high in the trees have astonished scientists searching for dormice.
For the first time, a study has shown how frequently common toads breed and build their nests in trees.
There have been reports of 50 toads living in dormouse nest boxes, which are nests that are up to three meters above ground.
Since common toads are considered terrestrial amphibians and normally spend their time on land or in water, researchers claimed this was unexpected. There haven’t been many reports of common toads climbing trees, despite the fact that they live in a wide range of settings, from wetlands to woods.
Researchers from Froglife and the University of Cambridge made the discovery. Initially searching for bats and dormice, volunteers were shocked to discover toads living in tree cavities. They claim that the discovery shows how crucial it is to preserve old-growth woodlands with characteristics like hollows, fractures, and other natural cavities for species.
The People’s Trust for Endangered Species charity’s conservation research manager, Nida Alfulaij, said: “We couldn’t believe what we uncovered. We frequently find tiny mammals and wild birds in the nest boxes, but we hadn’t thought to look for amphibians there.
In the UK, common toad populations have decreased by 68 percent on average over the past 30 years, according to research done by Froglife in 2016. The common toad is the European vertebrate species most susceptible to road fatality due to mass migration in the spring.
Common toads’ arboreal behavior has led scientists to believe that tree cavities may be a much more important ecological characteristic than previously believed. It is unknown why the common toad seeks safety in trees and nest boxes, but researchers speculate that it could be because they are looking for food or trying to avoid predators and parasites.
“These findings are significant and very exciting for our understanding of the ecology and conservation of common toads, one of the most widespread and abundant European amphibians,” said Dr. Silviu Petrovan, senior research associate at the zoology department of the University of Cambridge and author of the study that was published in the journal Plos One.
Scientists will be able to comprehend the causes of this behavior and its effects on the management of woodlands for common toads and other amphibians with the help of further, focused research.
Lead Image: A wild common toad sitting on a mossy log. Photograph: MarkBridger/Getty Images.
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