- Rana bombina Linnaeus, 1758
Fire-bellied Toad, European Fire-bellied Toad
Be (II); EUHD (II); CarpRL: EN
Value of species
This species is found in central and eastern Europe ranging from Denmark, southern Sweden and northern Germany eastwards to the Ural Mountains of Russia, southwards to the Danube floodplain, Turkey (Thrace and the vicinity of Adapazari B. b. arifiyensis in north-western Anatolia), and the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. It has been introduced to the United Kingdom (one colony in Surrey). It is a lowland species that occurs from sea level up to a maximum of 730m asl (in western Bohemia).
Reproduction takes place from April to July/August and is induced by heavy rainfall. Then, males can be recognized by some darkened, spiny swelling, the nuptial pad, on their forelegs. They help it to grasp the female properly around its hip. Males defend small territories of 2–3 m in diameter against rivals. Spawn consists of small clutches of 10–40 eggs which are attached to plants. Several such clutches are produced in a short time and thereby a female may lay a total of 80–300 eggs. Tadpoles hatch after 2–5 days and metamorphose after 5–12 weeks from July to September or after hibernation in spring. Young toads are 11–15 mm long and remain at the water’s edge. Maturity is reached at an age of 1–2 years. The European fire-bellied toad may live more than 10 years. The rather loud melodic call is repeated about 10–50 times per minute, correlating with temperature, and is performed in the afternoon at temperatures of 12–34 °C while drifting at the water surface. The sound is produced when the air is pressed from the vocal sac back to the lungs which is the opposite “higher” frogs do. It hibernates on land in frost-resisting dens like hollows under stones or dead wood.
The food of the European fire-bellied toad consists of insects, spiders, millipedes, mollusks and earthworms captured in or nearby the water. The tadpoles mainly feed on algae, bacteria and plankton by grazing the surfaces of stones and plants. If attacked by a vertebrate on land the European fire-bellied toad makes a hollow-back and lifts its four legs so that the ventral warning colour is displayed. The combination of dark and red is a learned signal meaning “attention poison” to the enemy.
This species remains fairly abundant over much of its range (for example it is extremely common to the north and west of the Danube floodplain where it has benefited from increased irrigation), although many northern populations have declined (e.g., in Poland and Germany). The populations of this species in both Denmark and Sweden are low. Individual populations of this species can show significant fluctuations in numbers. There are no recent records from Greece, but its range in this country has not been surveyed for many years. The species is common in parts of European Russia, Ukraine and Moldavia, and while it is unlikely to be declining on this territory in general, many local populations are declining.
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