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Common Midwife Toad Fact File

Appearance

Common midwife toads are not actually toads. Instead they are frogs which have a body like a toad and similar warty skin. These small red warts can be found across the body with large amounts on the ankles, under arms and running from the eye down to the groin.

The coloration of the rest of their body can vary considerable between individuals from pale to brown. On their underside they are white. Their throat features spots which may be colored black, brown, olive, green or grey.

They have a large eye which features a vertical pupil.

Males tend to be smaller than females. They measure in at 42mm

(1.7in) long while the females grow up to 50mm (2in) long.

Diet

Common midwife toads are carnivores. Their diet includes insects and other arthropods.

They will poke out their sticky tongue to catch food before chewing it with their small teeth.

common midwife toad

Scientific Name

Alytes obstetricans

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Length

Male

42mm(1.7in)

Female

50mm (2in)

Lifespan

8 years

Diet

Carnivorous

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Range

Europe is the native home of the midwife toad. Here they can be found in Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.

A number of populations have been introduced to the United Kingdom.

The population along the coast of Portugal to the west of Lisbon has been declared extinct.

Habitat

Midwife toads make their home in temperate forests and semi-arid areas. Aquatic habitats occupied by the midwife toad include slow moving rivers and stagnant permanent ponds.

They have been shown to persist in areas where the habitat was modified including agricultural land and urban habitats.

common midwife toad

Reproduction

Breeding takes place in the spring and summer. Males will call at night to attract a female. She will then present herself to him and he will grab around her. This causes the female to expel an egg mass which is fertilized by the male. He will then wrap them around his legs. The male may carry two females eggs at a time.

It takes between three and six weeks for the young to hatch. At this point the male will deposit them in to a small, permanent water body. This method protects the eggs against predation which they would face if they spent their whole time in the water. From this point they receive no further parental care.

Once the eggs hatch they are a larva or tadpole which will reach a length of between 5 and 8cm (2-3.1in) long before they metamorphose in to an adult.

Sexual maturity is reached between two and three years old.

Behavior

As an adult they spend almost their entire life on land. Tadpoles are restricted to the water.

They are nocturnal and will emerge at night to feed. During the day they will hide under logs to stop them drying out. They also have the ability to dig their own hole if they cannot find one.

During the winter months the adults may hibernate.

The call of males sounds like 'poo, poo' and is emitted once every 1-3 seconds.

common midwife toad

Predators and Threats

Predators of adults include snakes such as adders and birds while tadpoles are hunted by fish and aquatic insects.

To defend themselves they can use a potent smelling toxin which is excreted from the warts on their back. This can only be produced by adults.

Another defense method is to fill itself up with air and make themselves as big as possible. They will also stand as tall as they can.

Humans have affected the population of common midwife toads through habitat loss to agricultural development, habitat fragmentation and the introduction of predators.

Quick facts

While they are named midwife toads it is actually the male which cares for the eggs.

common midwife toad
common midwife toad

Photo Credits

Top

By Felixreimann – Imported from 500px (archived version) by the Archive Team. (detail page), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71291457


Middle

By Roger Culos – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62661211


Bottom

By Christian Fischer, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7344176


Photo Gallery Left

Lamiot, Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1383490


Photo Gallery Right

By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE – Midwife Toad (Alytes obstetricans) tadpole, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40168175

References

Ambrose, J., 2015. Wildlife Of The World. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Bosch, J., Beebee, T., Schmidt, B., Tejedo, M., Martinez Solano, I., Salvador, A., García París, M., Recuero Gil, E., Arntzen, J., Díaz-Paniagua, C. & Marquez, L.C. 2009. Alytes obstetricans (errata version published in 2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T55268A87541047. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009.RLTS.T55268A11283700.en. Downloaded on 12 January 2021.

Albert, J. 2015. "Alytes obstetricans" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed January 12, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Alytes_obstetricans/

AmphibiaWeb 2010 Alytes obstetricans: Midwife Toad <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/1522> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jan 12, 2021.

Froglife.org. 2021. Midwife Toad. [online] Available at: <https://www.froglife.org/info-advice/amphibians-and-reptiles/midwife-toad/> [Accessed 13 January 2021].

Kidzone.ws. 2021. Common Midwife Toad. [online] Available at: <https://kidzone.ws/lw/frogs/facts-midwife-toad.htm> [Accessed 13 January 2021].

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