© 2011 Thomas Eimermacher (1 of 22)
The back is characteristically marked by a pair of small dark brown spots on the lower back and another pair of markings on the shoulders. Dorsal coloring is reddish, hence the common name of Red Toad. The ground color is pale brown and even pinkish at times. The flanks are either pale or very dark. The underside is speckled with gray (Channing and Howell 2006).
The tadpole has an unusual horseshoe-shaped flap of skin on the head (Channing 2001).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Angola, Botswana, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, United Republic of, Zambia, Zimbabwe
The Red Toad tolerates a broad range of habitats, but occurs primarily in grassland and wooded savannah. It also occurs on livestock ranches, around human settlements, and on agricultural land. This species is terrestrial and breeds in freshwater. Its breeding grounds are usually bodies of deep, still water, including dirty water (Poynton et al. 2004).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
After heavy rainfall, the toad breeds during the day in deep muddy water. Males reach the breeding grounds, among the younger vegetation in the deep water, before the females. Dense spacing is the norm, with males separated by as little as 300 mm from each other. The males proceed to call and chase each other, while actively trying to mate with other frogs. Females then enter the area in response to the calls. The eggs are laid in a double string during amplexus while the pair moves slowly in the water, producing rows of egg strings. Eggs may be attached to vegetation, and females leave shortly after laying their eggs. The clutch size is 2500, with each egg 1.6-2.5 mm in diameter. Since myriad toads lay their eggs at similar times, the waters may be filled with upwards of tens of thousands of eggs at a time. The period of development from egg to toadlet ranges from 37 to 52 days.
The Red Toad has gregarious tadpoles, sometimes found in mixed swarms with tadpoles of the African bullfrog Pyxicephalus adspersus. These tadpoles are unique morphologically due to a horseshoe-shaped flap of skin on the head (Channing 2001; Channing and Howell 2006).
The adult molts at 4 day intervals (Channing and Howell 2006).
Trends and Threats
Relation to Humans
Biochemical evidence suggests that S. carens has been separated from other toads evolutionarily for approximately 55 million years (Channing 2001).
Channing, A. (2001). Amphibians of Central and Southern Africa. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.
Channing, A., and Howell, K. M. (2006). Amphibians of East Africa. Cornell University Press, Ithaca.
Poynton, J.C., Howell, K., Minter, L., and Tandy, M. (2004). Schismaderma carens. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 07 August 2008.
Written by Amy Ru Chen (amychen AT fas.harvard.edu), Harvard
First submitted 2008-05-13
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2008-08-27)
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