Saturday, August 21, 2010

Common Toad

Bufo bufo has a wide range that spreads across Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia. It is able to live in a wide variety of habitats including woodlands, grasslands, and gardens. Close vicinity to a large body of water is preferable to the species.

Image from Wikimedia Commons
Common Toads can actually grow to be quite large, measuring up to 18cm in length. They have a spotty dorsal side that ranges in color from tan to olive to brown. The color becomes more uniform during the mating season. Common Toads hibernate, sometimes in groups, from September-November, through March-June. The length of time depends on where the toad happens to live. One hibernation has ended, breeding season begins. Male Common Toads are highly competitive over females. They will grasp on to them in order to mate, but other males may get the same idea, resulting in "mating balls." While the males fight over the female, she can potentially be crushed or drowned. If a dominant male emerges, and the female is still alive, up to 5,000 eggs are spawned. The eggs will hatch and the tadpoles will become little toads after about 2.5months.

Common Toads have a defense mechanism to ward off predators. They secrete an irritant from their skin. Unfortunately, many predators don't seem to mind it, and will eat them anyway. Common Toads are an abundant species overall, but roadways have been causing dents in the population. In some areas, special passes and tunnels have been built to allow toads to cross without getting hit by cars. If a Common Toad survives cars, mating balls, and predators, they can live as long as 50 years.

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