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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While they are named midwife toads it is actually the male which cares for the eggs.
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
By Roger Culos – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62661211
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
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