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Amphibian Licensing

It is illegal to sell a British amphibian. The natterjack toad and great crested newt are also European Protected Species (EPS). Natural Resources Wales (NRW) gives licences for activities that would be illegal, for specific purposes


There are six amphibian species native to Wales. All amphibians need fresh water in which to lay their eggs or spawn and enough suitable habitat nearby to spend the rest of their year.

This page cannot cover all aspects of the law or amphibian ecology, but is an introduction to show how you can help to protect these species.

UK legislation

The most common species are protected from sale under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). These are as follows:

  • Common frog, Rana temporaria
  • Common toad, Bufo bufo
  • Palmate newt, Triturus helveticus
  • Smooth / common newt, Triturus vulgaris

This legislation protects them from sale, or advertising / offering them for sale. This is to protect them from exploitation in the pet trade or for laboratory use.

NRW can issue licences for several purposes under this legislation, including scientific, research, educational, conservation and photography, but not for development.

European legislation

Our two rarest amphibians are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (known as ‘the Habitats Regulations’). This is because they have declined throughout Europe in recent decades. The Habitats Regulations lists the following amphibian EPS:

  • Great crested (or Warty) newt, Triturus cristatus
  • Natterjack toad, Bufo calamita

Under the Habitats Regulations, it is an offence if you:

  • Deliberately capture, injure or kill any wild animal of an EPS,
  • Deliberately disturb wild animals of any such species,
  • Deliberately take or destroy the eggs of such an animal, or
  • Damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of such an animal

Disturbance is defined as that which is likely:

  • To impair their ability –
    • To survive, to breed or reproduce, or to rear or nurture their young, or
    • In the case of animals of a hibernating or migratory species, to hibernate or migrate; or
  • To affect significantly the local distribution or abundance of the species to which they belong

There are other offences relating to possession, transport and sale. See ‘Possession and sale of protected species’ for more information.

For a summary of amphibian legal protection, see ‘Legally protected reptiles and amphibians in Wales’.

Licensing

NRW issues licences under Regulation 55 of the Habitats Regulations to allow activities involving EPS to proceed, which would otherwise be offences. We issue them for specific purposes stated in the Regulations, if the following three tests are met:

  • The purpose of the work is for preserving public health or public safety or other imperative reasons of over-riding public interest including those of a social or economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment
  • That there is no satisfactory alternative
  • That the action authorised will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status (FCS) in their natural range

Other licensing purposes include the following:

  • Scientific and educational purposes,
  • Ringing or marking,
  • Conserving wild animals or wild plants,
  • Protecting any zoological or botanical collection,
  • Preventing the spread of disease,
  • Preventing serious damage

For more information on EPS licences, see ‘Surveys for European Protected Species’, ‘Do I need an EPS licence?’ ‘Natterjack licensing’ and ‘Great Crested Newt licensing’.

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