Cute Frog of the Week: July 4, 2011
From the southernmost tip of the Italian peninsula to the Apennine region, just south of the Po River Valley, spring signals the awakening of the Apennine yellow-bellied toad (Bambina pachypus) from its long hibernation. This brown spotted toad, with a brightly colored underbelly, wastes no time after coming out of its deep sleep and begins breeding. From May to September the toad will breed multiple times and females will lay clutches of a few eggs to a few dozen eggs in temporary pools of freshwater. Males are ever-ready for the marathon breeding season. They use sperm their bodies produced for the previous breeding season to fertilize eggs early in the breeding season, while new sperm develops to use for later on in the current season. The Apennine yellow-bellied toad will go through this process many times as it can live for up to 16 years in the wild. The average lifespan for the toad is generally half that. It does not reach sexual maturity until it is three years.
The toad’s odd coloring on its underbelly—black and white with large spots of yellow—serves a very distinct purpose. It is a warning to predators that the Apennine yellow-bellied toad is poisonous and not to be messed with. It secretes a toxic substance when it is threatened. The substance is not all bad; it is also antimicrobial and antifungal.
Every week the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project posts a new photo of a cute frog from anywhere in the world with an interesting, fun and unique story to tell. Be sure to check back every Monday for the latest addition.
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