12 February 2018 - THE AFRICAN TREE TOAD


THE AFRICAN
 TREE TOAD

G'day folks,

Welcome to some facts about one of the tiny creatures that roam the earth.

The African Tree Toad is a small species of Toad found in the forests of Central Africa. Today, little is still known about this tiny amphibian and the constantly decreasing population numbers of the African Tree Toad are making it increasingly difficult for us to learn more about them. There are two known subspecies of the African Tree Toad, which are the African Tree Toad and the Bates' Tree Toad. Both African Tree Toad species are of similar size and colour but tend to differ in the geographical regions they inhabit.




The African Tree Toad is generally dark to light brown in colour, with white patches on its belly and like other Toad species, the African Tree Toad has specially designed feet which aid its semi-aquatic and tree climbing lifestyle. The African Tree Toad is a terrestrial animal and uses it' s toes to also help it to hop about on the ground. The toes of the African Tree Toad are long and thin, with sticky, round discs on the tips. These widely spread digits enable this Toad to grip onto a larger surface area. The tiny striped body of the African Tree Toad grows up 3.8cm in length making these animals particularly hard to spot amongst the debris on the forest floor.


The African Tree Toad is said to be distributed across its natural Central African range in countries such as Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Nigeria. Despite this though, there are very few records of this elusive amphibian meaning that much of its distribution (and indeed population size) is simply presumed. The natural habitat of the African Tree Toad is subtropical or tropical moist, lowland forests and heavily degraded former forest, where there is a plentiful water supply. Today however, the African Tree Toad is generally restricted to taller forests.

 

 
Like other Toads, the African Tree Toad is a semi-aquatic animal, although it is most commonly found in water when the female is laying her eggs. In a similar way to other tropical Toads, the African Tree Toad spends much of its life walking, hopping or running about on the ground where it is able to find plenty of food and water. When darkness falls however, the African Tree Toad retreats high into the surrounding vegetation to remain safe during the night from ground-dwelling predators. The colour and markings of their skin, gives the African Tree Toad camouflage amongst the surrounding forest, again giving it extra defence from hungry predators.


Little is really known about the reproduction of the African Tree Toad besides the fact that female African Tree Toads are known to lay up to 200 sticky eggs in small bodies of water found in hollow tree cavities. These spawning sites are then guarded by the male African Tree Toad until the tiny eggs hatch into tadpoles. It is unknown what the tadpoles feed on, but once developed, they hop out of their watery nest in the tree and begin hunting for food in the forest. African Tree Toads in captivity usually live until they are three or four years old but nothing is known about their lifespan in the wild.


The African Tree Toad is a carnivorous amphibian that shoots its long, sticky tongue out of its mouth at incredible speeds to catch and secure its prey. This also helps the Toad to hold onto its catch whilst it is trying to eat it. The African Tree Toad primarily hunts small invertebrates including Insects, Worms and Spiders that scuttle amongst the debris on the forest floor. In a similar way to other Toad species, it is thought that the African Tree Toad sits in silence, waiting for lunch to pass by, before catching it with lighting speed.

 


 
Due to its small size, the African Tree Toad is believed to have numerous predators within its warm and wet, woodland environment. Fish, Birds, Lizards, Snakes, rodents and other, larger amphibians like Frogs and Toads are all thought to be common predators of the African Tree Toad. The largest assumed threat to the African Tree Toad is habitat loss in the form of deforestation and, to a lesser extent, both air and water pollution in their natural habitats. Little is known however about the direct affects of habitat loss on the species as a whole.


Very little is known about the African Tree Toad, as only a handful of records exist throughout its very limited range, and there are in fact no records that confirm its existence through much of its so-called natural habitat. It is simply just assumed that the African Tree Toad exists in these areas.




Clancy's comment: Cute, but I wonder how long it will be on earth?

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