Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why do toads cross the road?

Driving on highways, it's not unusual to spot signs depicting the presence of deer and other "average" critters in the vicinity, to avoid collisions between man and nature. However, it appears that drivers living in Carmarthenshire, Wales, have to watch out for something slightly smaller. Much smaller.

Talk about your tunnel vision!

Warning signs have been installed on two Carmarthenshire roads to help - wait for it - toads looking for love, to cross in safety. Go figure! Seems that Burry Port and Ammanford roads in this town, bisect areas registered as important migration sites.

Carmarthenshire council put up signs every Spring warning motorists to drive carefully to avoid colliding/squishing hundreds of the toads that make their way accross the intersection. Everyone gets involved including volunteers, who assist in the process by collecting the toads in pails and transporting them to the other side. Can't say that I'd be anxious to retrieve toads but then that's just me. In order to draw attention to the fragility of the situation, important breeding sites are being registered with national wildlife charity "Froglife" as part of its Toads on the Roads mapping scheme and signs erected to help publicize migration routes.

Froglife has mapped more than 700 crossings using satellite technology, via website Google Earth, including active routes staffed by volunteers in Wrexham, Ceredigion, Powys, Neath Port Talbot and Newport.

Wow - all that technology in order to ensure that these toads bring forth and multiply!

Conservationists hope to use the data to learn more about toads' migration routes and any problems encountered crossing roads during their breeding season in spring. Additionally, toad tunnels were built last year to help the amphibians avoid a busy crossing.

This leads one - me - to wonder who builds said toad tunnels and what is their height. Do they span accross the road or along side? Anyone know?

The two Carmarthenshire crossings are among 43 toad crossings being introduced nationwide this year. Here is a photographic image of what the toads look like in a toad tunnel, doing what the tunnel was created for:

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