Bufo bufo - Toad
Common name: common toad
HABITAT AND GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION
The common toad, scientific name Bufo bufo, belongs to the Bufonidae family and it is found in Europe as far as Kazakhstan and eastern Siberia, in the north-western part of Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) and in the Middle East and precisely in Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. Only in some islands such as Ireland, the Balearics, Corsica, Sardinia, Malta, Crete is absent (while it is present in Sicily).
In practice the Bufo bufo together with Bufo viridis is the largest representative of the family Bufonidae and it is a very common toad in Italy.
The toad is an animal that prefers coniferous and broad-leaved forests and woods with swampy or very humid areas and dense vegetation where it loves shelter. It is not found in open spaces and is present at altitudes ranging from sea level up to about 2000 m s.l.m. (specimens were found even at 3000 m).
CHARACTER, BEHAVIOR AND SOCIAL LIFE
The toad is an eminently nocturnal animal and tends to shy away from the light.When he feels threatened he assumes a characteristic position: arches his back inflates with air to appear larger and more threatening. In addition, from the cloaca it can launch a spray of urine into the attacker's eyes which is very irritating.
The common toad is the largest amphibian present in Europe: specimens of 20 cm in length (excluding legs) have been found. Generally, the male is smaller than the female and does not exceed 10 cm in length (calculated from the most prominent tip of the muzzle to the most external posterior part).
The dorsal part of the body is brown - reddish tending to green with usually a light colored belly.
The skin is leathery and covered with numerous rounded tubercles, rich in a particular substance, the buffalo, which is poisonous if ingested or injected.The skin is also subject to color changes during the reproductive season tending more to the gray-yellowish.
The toad has pupils arranged horizontally, elliptical in shape, with the iris of a golden-copper color.
It mainly feeds on land and not in water and its typical diet is invertebrates (insects, snails, etc.).
REPRODUCTION AND GROWTH OF THE SMALL
The reproductive period of the toad depends on the temperature: in the warmer climate zones it tends to reproduce between February and March while in the colder climate zones in June.
A habit of the common toad is that it tends to return to where it was born to reproduce even if this involves traveling many kilometers. In fact, during the breeding season it is common to see long lines with dozens and even hundreds of toads migrating to the breeding grounds.
It is easy to find several males attempting to mate with the same female forming large clusters (video above).
During mating, the male toad places himself on the female's back and holds her tightly to himself, thanks to some calluses that develop in his thumb. There is no copulation as the fertilization is external: the female releases the eggs outside which are fertilized by the sperm which is released, always outside, by the male. Once fertilized they are deposited in lakes, ponds, ditches, puddles and streams, in any case always where the water is quite clear and calm and in slow motion. In general, female toads lay their eggs inside mucilaginous cords that are even 2 cm wide and 4-5 meters long, arranged parallel to each other, which contain up to 7,000 black eggs that adhere to the vegetation.
The eggs hatch after about 2-3 weeks, and the larvae are dark, gray-black in color (video above). After about 2.5 - 3 months the larvae, now with the appearance of adults, finally leave the water to begin life in the mainland (they have a size of about 2 cm).
STATE OF THE POPULATION
The common toad even if it is included in the IUNC Red list among animals at low risk of extinction LEAST CONCERN (LC) as its population is considered stable, it is internationally a protected species and has been included in Annex III of the Berne Convention (signed on November 19, 1979) which protects the conservation of wildlife life and the natural environment Europe as well as being protected by numerous national and regional laws of numerous states.
All this was dictated by the fact that the destruction of forests and the reclamation of wetlands represent a great threat to the toad population. If this is associated with chemical pollution, urbanization, agriculture and desertification and the fact that they tend to return to the place where they were born to reproduce, it is understandable that there is serious concern for the survival of this species. In fact, it is now common to see the roads and highways, during the reproductive period, crossed by long lines of these animals that try to return to their places of origin and that are crushed by machines as well as due to anthropization, their places of reproduction gradually disappear.