Zandvlei Trust 

Loads of Toads. article by Evanne Rothwell.

(The article appeared in the Full Circle Magazine July 2005, distributed in the Fish Hoek area.)

                      photograph by Evanne Rothwell                                              photograph by Evanne Rothwell

The Western Leopard Toad is one of the most endangered of the western Cape toads and, as such deserves protection. Their habitat is in the fynbos where they forage happily, eating insects etc. They are dry land creatures only going down to wetlands to breed for a few days of the year. Encroaching developments and a bigger network of roads are spelling great danger for them.

Research is currently being undertaken to find out more about these engaging toads. We think it takes
3 - 5 years for them to mature, so they have to survive some years before then. At breeding time usually around the first warm week in August the breeding adults migrate to the wetlands to breed. Wetlands can then sound as if a Harley Davidson rally is in progress, as they make a very load "purring" noise. This is a dangerous time for the toads, as many get run over by cars on the roads. As the females can attain a size of 15cm and the males 10cm, they should be easy to see by the motorists. Unfortunately, many drivers dont care what they run over, and thus the breeding stock is diminished in this manner.

                      photograph by Evanne Rothwell                                             photograph by Evanne Rothwell

Round about November to January the baby toadlets emerge from the wetlands and try to reach safety in the fynbos. As they are about 11mm long they are in danger of being trodden on, and people should be aware of this, when walking around wetlands at this time of the year. We have noticed that they seem to move when a little rain has fallen and it is nice and cool.

Interesting facts about the toads are that the distinctive markings on the backs are unique to each toad and they can thus be recognised. So if you have one in your garden take a photo and see if you can keep a check on your special toad, or if you have more than one. They can be found in gardens quite a long way from the wetlands. When the weather is hot they can sometimes be found in bathrooms. They can be picked up and put outside. They dont drink water but have patches on their bottoms, through which they absorb water. Dogs water dishes are often used for this purpose.

photograph by Evanne Rothwell                                                                           photograph by Evanne Rothwell

The brownish patches on their heads do contain a toxin, that can make domestic pets very sick if the toads are bitten or really threatened. They can however be very safely handled as this does not seem to stress them at all.

Census time.

We will be doing a census during the breeding period to try and find out where the breeding sites are and how many toads there are. If anyone would like to come and help us - it will be at night and could be cold and wet.

Contact Evanne Rothwell, (021) 782 6144

A Frog awareness Evening in Fish Hoek, during August 2005.

photograph by Charles Oertel

date:  Wednesday 24th August 2005.

time:  19h30.

venue:  Paul Greyling School Sunray Road, Fish Hoek.

speaker:   James Harrison from the ADU at UCT. He is the co - editor of the Atlas and Red Data Book of the frogs of South Africa Lesotho, and Swaziland.
He is also an authority on birds.

admission: free.

donation: for the refreshments please.

Frog packs will be on sale for R25, also T-shirts and other items.

For more information contact Evanne Rothwell, (021) 782 6144

This picture indicates the size of the toadlets when they are on the move, away from the wetlands or water bodies to establish themselves.
They are very vulnerable to predation and being squashed and run over by humans and motor vehicles.


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