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Abeilles-de-France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

Yellow bellied toad 

Bombina variegata 

Sonneur ventre jaune

 

This small toad doesn't exceed 5cm and is easily recognisable by its brightly coloured underside, limbs and throat which are yellow with black marbling. The back is from greyish brown to greenish brown and is warty, the eyes are protruding with a pupil that is more or less triangular or heart shaped. The digits on the front legs are not webbed, whereas the digits on the back legs are almost totally webbed.

Photo.Yellow.bellied.toad.France

Its main range in France is between a line drawn from Loire Atlantique to Ardennes and a line drawn between Vendee and Côte D'Azur giving a more or less triangular area. Its habitat comprises ponds, ditches, canals, ruts, ditches, forest ponds, old quarries and drinking troughs.  It is generally aquatic and rarely strays from the waterside. It preys on worms, mollusks, small crustaceans, insects and their larva, occasionally spiders. It is generally gregarious and often lives in small diurnal groups. When threatened it turns over on its back and exposes its coloured belly as a warning to a predator that its flesh is not edible. The males sing both day and night, as they do not have a vocal sac the sound does not carry very far, perhaps 10 metres.

Coupling begins in April and continues until July or August depending upon altitude and temperature. The female lays several batches of around ten eggs in the aquatic vegetation and can produce 2 or 3 broods a season with perhaps a total of 300 eggs.  The development of the young is quite rapid being complete within three months. This is extremely important as many of the places the eggs are laid are shallow and dry in summer.

 

It has a close cousin which is to be found in Eastern Europe, the fire bellied toad Bombina bombina and although this species has a completely different mating procedure and the fire bellied toad has vocal sacs the two species interbreed where they are both present. The offspring can resemble either species and are fertile themselves and able to reproduce.

Threats are principally the filling of small pools, land use change and the mechanical clearing of ditches from April until October when they are present.