04:00PM, Thursday 02 April 2020
Over the course of the past month, 608 toads have been saved from a perilous fate on the roads, thanks to the efforts of the Deerswood Toad Patrol.
The patrol is a community of residents who join together on any evening during the toad breeding migration season, in order to scoop up toads and ferry them across the road.
Dressed in high visibility vests and armed with buckets, volunteers pick up the toads in gloved, or even bare, hands and put them in the buckets. They are then released into Summerleaze Lake.
Without this, the toads would most likely meet a sticky end on the busy roads of Ray Mill Road East and Summerleaze Road.
“They’re quite calm when you pick them up,” said Rachel Cook, a Deerswood Toad Patrol volunteer. “They have a natural defence mechanism of freezing. They don’t hop around like frogs.
“They have very delicate skin, though, so it’s best to wear gloves - if you have any kind of hand cream on, it’s not good for them.”
This year, 78 toads were killed on the roads, according the Toad Patrol count – a mortality rate of 13 per cent, which is consistent with last year’s toad patrol.
On any given night, there are more than 50 volunteers patrolling for 1-3 hours, including 20 families, with about 40 children taking part every week.
“Kids really enjoy it, they’re very enthusiastic,” said Rachel. “It’s a great cross-generational activity.”
The migration period is more or less over for this year. However, if there are some stragglers, the current pandemic might actually do them good.
“We can cross our fingers that less humans driving cars might make things easier for the toads,” said Rachel.
“If someone’s taking their exercise in the evening, and they see a toad, they can help, but we’re taking Government guidance seriously, so there’s no more official patrols going on now.”
Top Ten Articles