The common toad, which is also known as the European toad, is a relatively large toad living in Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia. Although the color of these toads is normally brown, they can be gray, black, and even greenish or yellowish. They can even change their colors depending on their surroundings! Like most amphibians, common toads are found in damp areas close to water. Also, like most toads, they have skin with a warty appearance. These toads are nocturnal and rest during the day. Behind their eyes, common toads have small bulges on their skin. These bulges are the toad’s parotoid glands which produce a nasty tasting liquid that helps a toad escape most danger in the form of animals.
The common toad can grow up to 7 inches (18 cm) in length. This is pretty large for a toad. In fact, the common toad is the largest amphibian in Great Britain. Normally these animals are smaller than the size listed, and the males are also generally smaller than the females.
The main food of common toads is invertebrates including spiders, slugs, ants, worms, and insects. Some larger individuals may choose to tackle larger food such as snakes or even harvest mice. Most of the time, common toads will just sit and wait for food to pass by. Common toads are welcome in most gardens because of the role they play in ridding the garden of pests. Because they are nocturnal, common toads hunt at night.
Since they are fairly large, common toads do not have many predators. One of the predators that kills many of these animals is probably a lot larger than you would think and is made of steel. It is called the automobile. Common toads, along with other amphibians, are often killed when trying to cross roads. In order to help with this, at least two projects have been started. The first one is a project that builds tunnels under roads in hopes that the toads will use these to get to the other side instead of going across where the cars are. Although this sounds like a good idea, it is still very likely that the toads will cross over on the road instead of through the tunnel. The picture above is an example of one of these tunnels. The other project consists of a group of volunteers who find amphibians that want to cross the road and transport them to the other side in buckets. This project has definite results and you can see the most recent number of amphibians saved here.
Don’t mess with me
If a common toad does feel threatened by a living threat, it has a very interesting way of trying to intimidate its enemy. First a threatened toad will inflate its lungs with air in order to make itself look bigger. It will then stand up on its legs as shown in the picture in a further attempt to scare away an enemy.
Breeding season occurs between March and June of each year. During this time, a male will hold on tightly to a female to be ready to fertilize the eggs as soon as they come out. Sometimes a male will mistake another male for a female and grasp on the the male on accident. If this happens, the other male will use a special “release” croak to get the other toad to let go. Occasionally up to ten males will try to hold on to one female. Large groups like these are called mating balls. When these occur, the female can be drowned or crushed because of the weight of the males. Up to 5,000 eggs are laid and fertilized.
A few days after they hatch, the common toad tadpoles move away from their hatching place. While they are still small, the young feed on microorganisms. Although they normally stick together and are coated with a toxic substance, these tadpoles can be prey for some diving beetles with sharp mouth-parts. About 8 to 12 weeks after hatching, common toad young will be fully matured and will start to live on land. This series of pictures shows the changes that occur within the last two weeks of metamorphosis. You will notice that the tadpoles actually get smaller during this time.
Common toads start mating as early as age two and in the wild can live for up to twelve years. In captivity some common toads have been recorded as living for up to fifty years!
Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom and leave your guess about what the next animal is!
- Common toad: patrick connolly
- Common toad range: public domain
- Tunnel:Christian Fischer
- Threatened toad: Łukasz Olszewski
- Common toad metamorphosis:Cemhiraeth
- Mystery animal: Dakota L