ABOVE: It isn't unusual for females to be drowned during the mating season. This one had probably been held under by the weight of several males the previous night.
Until recently it was thought that the Common Toad Bufo bufo was the species that occupied most of France and that the sub-species Southern Common Toad, Bufo bufo spinosus, was only to be found in the South of France. With little if any obvious external difference that assumption remained the case until genetic studies were conducted that turned everything on its head. It turned out that it is Bufo bufo spinosus that occupies most of France with Bufo bufo only in the North East of the country.
With this in mind it it is only necessary to describe their biology and behaviour together.These toads can reach 19cm in length in the case of females with males being considerably smaller. Back and upper surface can be brown, grey or greenish with dark spots and the tone can be altered according to surroundings. The underside is cream or grey. They have a large head with a rounded nose and their eyes are copper or gold with horizontal slit pupils. The skin is warty and can excrete toxins when threatened which deter predators. Back feet are partially webbed.
This Common Toad in France seems to be a bit confused and has climbed on a Salamander
They can be found living in all types of habitat in France generally with no apparent fear of human contact and they are adaptable to saline water in coastal regions. In your garden a common toad will frequently use the same place of cover for months under a piece of wood, a rock or some other niche and regularly patrol the same territory in search of food. They are excellent swimmers and climbers with the main periods of activity at dusk and during the night. When disturbed they crouch on the ground and inflate their bodies. Hibernation commences in October in a hole in the ground or any type of cavity, even in a barn or shed. It will not be unusual to find several individuals together in a good location.
Map shows approx division of the two species.
Protected species in France