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The Natterjack Toad (Epidalea calamita, formerly Bufo calamita) is a toad native to sandy and heathland areas of Northern Europe. Adults are 60 - 70 mm in length and are distinguished from the common toad by a yellow line down the middle of the back. They have relatively long legs, and this gives them a distinctive gait, contrasting with the hopping movement of many other toad species.

Natterjacks have a very loud and distinctive mating call, amplified by the single vocal sack found under the chin of the male animal.

Life history

A very young Natterjack.
A slightly older Natterjack, though still not fully grown.
This toad lives for up to 15 years and feeds on insects, worms and small reptiles. At night it moves along open terrains with very sparse vegetation and in loose sand the tracks can often be seen. They move along considerable distances each night, which enables the species to colonize new habitats very quickly.

Reproduction

The Natterjack Toad spawns between the end of April and July, laying 'strings' of eggs in shallow pools. The loud mating calls are important because the Natterjack Toad is often present in low numbers so it is important that the sexes can find each other.

The pools need to have a very slight slope with a sparse vegetation on the banks and in the water. These are very often temporary pools and sometimes the larvae die when the pools dry out. The Natterjack however compensates for that risk by mating a few times each summer and the age of the juveniles can vary from a month to 3 months in September. It appears that the early breeders are not the same individuals as the toads that reproduce later in the season.

The Natterjack toad is the only species of toad native to Ireland, and is found in the regions of West Kerry in Castlegregory.

Conservation

  • In the UKmarker this species is one of only three amphibians protected under the national Biodiversity Action Plan. The reason for the threatened status of this organism is: (a) loss of habitat from human overpopulation, (b) reduction in habitable coast from construction of dykes and seawalls, and (c) acidification of aquatic habitat from acid rain and other pollution factors.
  • The toad is most notably found in the sandunes on the coast of southern Southportmarker, UKmarker. Here it is protected.


  • This species can also be found in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. in the U.S.A.


In Fiction:

The natterjack is a primary character in the book "The Time Garden" by Edgar Eager. In it, the natterjack is portrayed as a magical creature who understands the laws of magic and time and assists the children on their adventures.

References

  • Database entry includes a range map and justification for why this species is of least concern


External links



Further reading

Korky, J.K. 2008. Notes on the 2007 breeding season of the Natterjack Toad Epidalea calamita Laurenti (Anura: Bufonidae) in Ireland. Bull. Ir. biogeog. Soc. 32:21 - 31.


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