Western Spadefoot toad France

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Western Spadefoot toad  Pelobates cultripes  Pélobate cultripède

(syn.franaise Pélobate à Couteaux)

 

Sharing many similarities with the Spadefoot toad it is slightly larger at 5 to 9cm. This large toad has prominent eyes with vertical pupils surrounded with silver, yellow and black mottling. The head is well developed with a rounded nose, the body is light grey with dark bands or blotches, and the underside is white or pale yellow, splashed with darker marks towards the rear with reddish brown marks under the throat. The rear feet are equipped with a highly developed metatarsus tubercle or cutter which enables it to bury itself with great speed in the soft or sandy soil where it lives.

 

Photo.Western Spadefoot toad, France.

In France it is to be found in the southwest, generally in the coastal regions where it prefers sandy light soil, dunes, beaches and asparagus fields, also present on Île de Ré and Île de Olèron (Charente Maritime). Often creates a deep vertical hole up to 1 metre to escape from the heat. It is nocturnal and preys on insects and beetles which it finds in the ground or in surface debris. In some years it is abundant and the following year it appears to have almost disappeared and there doesnt seem to be an explanation for this. During mild winter conditions they can remain active and are sometimes observed in great numbers after rainfall.

 

Coupling takes place in springtime when the toads seek out relatively shallow ponds and lakes often less than 20cm deep, these can be fresh or saline. The eggs are laid in strings attached to aquatic vegetation.

 

Its status in France is vulnerable (liste rouge nationale). Protected nationally art 1. Habitats directive Annexe 4. Berne convention Annexe 2.