Midwife Toad

The emancipated toad with beautiful eyes

Author: Henning Vierhaus
Author: Henning Vierhaus

Melodic calls in the night

Many people have probably already encountered Midwife Toads without knowing it, because the tiny creatures with golden eyes like to stay in cover. However, their melodic call, which has earned them the German names "Bell Frog" and "Stone Jangler" betrays the species' presence from March until well into the summer, particularly at night. Probably a lot of people on their jolly way home after a summer night party will have wondered what creature owns the gentle call emanating from a bush or pile of rocks.

While Common Frogs and Common Toads migrate en masse in the spring to their spawning waters, the only three to five-centimetre-large Midwife Toads mate in a hidden place on land. They seemingly place great value on emancipation, because the male takes responsibility for looking after the eggs. After the copulation, which follows a complicated choreography, the male wraps the fertilized strings of egg mass around its hind legs and carries them around with him for up to six weeks. During this period, the larvae develop in the eggs. When the eggs are about to hatch, it finds a suitable stretch of water and releases its "backpack". Depending on external conditions such as the temperature of the water or the date of spawning, the larval development progresses at different rates, so that the young toads may leave the water in the same year or not until the following year.

It is not very choosy with respect to where it deposits the spawn. Somewhat deeper, slow-flowing sections of streams can be used as well as water-filled wheel ruts or ponds. The important factor is proximity to places where it can hide up during the day, which is why quarries or gravel pits are a popular habitat. The Midwife Toad spends most of its life on land.

In the District of Soest with its open, flat Hellwegbörde region, the Midwife Toad reaches its northern limit of distribution, because of its preference for habitats in low mountain regions.