Representatives of amphibians are not favored by humans. For many decades, rumors have been spreading about the dangerous and even destructive effects of toads on humans. Many are sure that only one touch to this animal can lead to the formation of a wart, and sometimes to death. However, this is just a myth. And the fact is quite rosy – the ground toad is one of the most useful amphibians on the planet.
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Due to external features, the ground toad is often compared to a frog. However, these are two different types of amphibians. The toad belongs to the family of toads, an order of anurans. To date, this family has more than five hundred varieties. However, only six species of the genus can be found on the territory of Europe.
It is worth familiarizing yourself with these species in more detail:
- Green. Differs in a bright gray-olive color. On the back with the naked eye you can see dark green spots, decorated with black stripes. For their own safety, adult green toads secrete a special liquid. It is toxic and very dangerous to enemies. Such amphibians prefer to move in steps, practically do not jump.
- Common. The largest species in the family. The body of an adult is wide, painted in brown, gray or olive. The eyes are very bright – orange.
- Caucasian. Large amphibian. Its length can reach thirteen centimeters. Skin color is usually light brown, dark gray. Such a toad lives in mountains, forests and caves.
- Far East. A characteristic feature of this species is a wide color palette of the skin, small spikes and longitudinal stripes on the upper body. The animal lives in water meadows and shady forests.
- Reed. The length of the amphibian is approximately eight centimeters. On the back you can clearly see a bright yellow stripe. Skin color can be gray, olive, sandy.
- Mongolian. This toad has a flattened body, round head, bulging eyes. Its length usually does not exceed nine centimeters. A distinctive feature is the presence of many warts.
Appearance and Features
Ground toads have several distinctive features. They completely lack teeth in the upper part of the jaw, unique “parotid” glands are located near the ears, and the paws of males are equipped with special tubercles. With the help of these tubercles, males can safely hold on to the body of females during mating.
Interesting fact: The parotid glands perform several functions. Firstly, they secrete a special moisturizing secret, and secondly, they act as a protective weapon. Some individuals with their help produce a toxic poison. However, it is dangerous only for natural enemies of toads. In humans, this poison can only cause a slight burning sensation.
Most members of the family have a slightly flattened body, a large head, and large eyes. The eyes are placed in a horizontal position. The fore and hind limbs have fingers. They are interconnected by a special membrane. It helps amphibians to cut through the expanses of water.
An important difference between a toad and a frog is the way they move. Frogs jump and toads walk. This is due to the small size of the hind legs. Small paws make the animal slow, not so jumpy. But on the other hand, nature endowed them with another useful quality – the ability to move their tongue with lightning speed. With it, toads can easily catch insects.
The color of the skin in different representatives varies from sandy to dark brown. The skin of the ground toad is dry, slightly keratinized, strewn with warts. The length of the body can reach thirty centimeters. But most often toads have average dimensions – 9-13 centimeters. By weight, the animal usually does not exceed one kilogram.
Where does the ground toad live?
Representatives of this species of amphibians are widespread. They inhabit almost the entire globe. The only exception is Antarctica. Relatively recently, toads did not live in Australia either. However, scientists have created a population of poisonous toads there.
Earth toads have reached wide distribution in Europe. Various members of the family live in the UK, the Baltic States, Ukraine, Belarus, Sweden. Such animals are found in large numbers in almost all regions of Russia.
Interesting fact: The largest ground toads live in Colombia, Ecuador. Their length reaches twenty-five centimeters. However, there are very few of these animals left. Today they are on the verge of extinction.
Typically, amphibians choose geographic areas with a similar climate for their residence. This unspoken law does not apply to representatives of the toad family. Such amphibians live in different regions. They live in deserts, swamps, steppes and meadows. Ground toads spend most of their time on the ground. In the water, they only spawn. Toads tolerate heat, cold, any other weather conditions well. The only exceptions are very low temperatures, so they are not found in Antarctica.
What does the ground toad eat?
Slowness, clumsiness of ground toads is misleading. Many people consider them to be poor earners. However, it is not. These amphibians are excellent hunters! Two factors help them in obtaining food: the ability to quickly throw out the tongue and natural voracity. The toad, without moving, can easily grab an insect flying by and have a bite to eat. Frogs don't know how to hunt like that.
Their main diet includes:
- various butterflies;
- insects, their offspring – larvae;
- fish fry.
Large adults also feed on small rodents, frogs and lizards. However, catching and eating such prey is not easy. Representatives of the family usually go hunting in the evening. They can hunt all night, waiting in ambush for prey.
Interesting fact: Ground toads bring significant benefits to humans. They can safely be called nurses of crops. In one day, an adult helps to get rid of eight grams of insects. This significantly reduces the percentage of crop damage.
Toads search for food only in the warm season, alone. Amphibians gather in groups only during the breeding season. In winter they hibernate. For this, the animal finds the most suitable place for itself. Most often, this place turns out to be abandoned rodent burrows, tree roots.
Character and lifestyle features
The nature of earthen toads is quite calm. They spend the day basking in the sun, and in the evening they begin to search for food for food. Heavy body, short legs make these amphibians slow. They move little, and you can very rarely see a toad in a jump.
Representatives of the family scare away their opponents with their large body dimensions. If danger arises, the toad arches its back. This technique makes it even visually larger. If the trick did not help scare off the opponent, then the amphibian can make a big single jump.
Video: Ground toad
Ground toads spend their day not only near water bodies. They have slightly keratinized skin, so they do not need to be constantly near water. The necessary level of moisture for the skin is secreted by the parotid glands. This is quite enough. During the day, the animal can safely be in the forest, on the field, in the gardens. Closer to the water, toads move during the mating season.
During the period of searching for partners, breeding, these animals make a special sound. It often resembles a quack. At other times they are rarely heard. Only when frightened, an amphibian can emit a shrill squeak. The entire period of activity of earth toads falls exclusively on the warm season. When cold weather sets in, animals fall into suspended animation.
Social structure and reproduction
The mating season for earth toads begins with the first warmth – in the spring. In the tropics, this period falls on the season of heavy rains. During the mating season, these amphibians gather in groups and only near water bodies, rivers, swamps. Water is of strategic importance for reproduction. Only in water can toads spawn. Males first appear at water bodies, then females. Females enter the water and begin to spawn. Males climb on their backs and fertilize these eggs. After fertilization, the toads leave the pond.
In water, the future offspring from caviar turns into small tadpoles. They will live in the water for about two months. At this time, tadpoles feed exclusively on algae and small plants. After that, the tadpoles turn into full-fledged toads. Only then can they land. The rate of development of eggs depends on several factors: the type of toad, ambient temperature, water. Usually this period lasts from five to sixty days.
Some species of toads do not leave their eggs after fertilization. They wear it on their back until the larvae appear. There are also viviparous individuals. However, there are very few of them left and they live only in Africa. At one time, such an amphibian can give birth to no more than twenty-five babies.
Interesting fact: There are many types of ground toads in which the male acts as a nanny. He wraps ribbons around his paws and waits for them to hatch.
Ground toads' natural enemies
The ground toad is defenseless against many other animals, humans. Enemies surround her from all sides. From the sky, storks, herons, ibis hunt for her. They deftly grab amphibians right on the fly. On the ground they are in danger from foxes, minks, wild boars, otters, raccoons. And the worst enemies are snakes. There is no escape from them.
Toads' only defense against enemies is the toxic liquid on their skin. However, not all members of the family can produce it. Other toads only have to skillfully disguise themselves in greenery. This defenseless animal is saved from extinction only due to its high fecundity.
Also, many adults, tadpoles, die at the hands of man. Someone kills them for their own fun, others try to domesticate them. It is possible to keep such amphibians at home, but not everyone succeeds. Wrong content often leads to death.
Population and species status
The ground toad is a widespread animal. Their population as a whole does not cause concern. These animals are quite prolific, so they quickly renew in their numbers. However, certain species of ground toads are in great danger – on the verge of extinction. These include the Jungle Toad, Viviparous Toad, and Kihansi.
Ground Toad Conservation
As already noted, some species of the toad family are on the verge of extinction. So, viviparous toads are listed in the Red Book of Africa. There are very few of them left, so the state is engaged in the protection of such amphibians. It restores the natural environment for their habitat, finances scientific projects for a detailed study of the species.
Reed toads are protected by the Bern Convention. Their species is listed in the Red Books of Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine. The saddest thing is that the cause of the extinction of these animals is man. Humans are destroying the natural habitat of ground frogs. In particular, Kihansi can now only be found in zoos, because this species began to die out after the construction of a dam on the river, where these amphibians lived.
Ground toad — not so attractive, but quite useful animal. It is it that helps to rid the fields, gardens of many harmful insects. Representatives of this family are represented in large numbers on different continents, excluding Antarctica.