About animals

Reed Toad (Bufo calamita)


Description: Body length up to 80 mm. Top olive, brownish, sometimes gray-sand color, often with a spotty pattern (spots of dark or greenish color), sometimes without it. Along the back there is a thin yellowish or light streak (sometimes absent). The parotid glands are rounded triangular. Skin with large tubercles of chestnut or slightly reddish color. Bottom gray-white. The skin of the back of the abdomen is grainy. The articular tubercles on the fingers of the hind limbs are paired. Male with an unpaired throat resonator.

Spread: From the Iberian Peninsula to the south-west. to the UK, south Sweden, northwest Ukraine, app. Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to the north. and east. It is absent on the islands of the Mediterranean Sea, in the south. Alps and the Balkans. In Russia, it was found only in the Kaliningrad region, from where 4 finds 1-3 are reliably known. The species, however, should be widespread here, as lives in all neighboring with the Kaliningrad region. republics. Distribution has a mosaic character, which is associated with the characteristics of preferred biotopes. As a rule, everywhere it occupies lowland territories.

Habitat: It lives mainly on dry, warm, open areas with light soils bordering on moist depressions. The most characteristic biotopes are moorlands, dunes along the coast or sandy shores of lakes, rivers and reservoirs. It occurs on the fringes of pine forests, in meadows and swamps, sometimes in sandy and gravel pits, in vegetable gardens, in parks and agricultural land with loose soils. In the Kaliningrad region found in a sand quarry and on coastal dunes. For breeding, it uses small heated reservoirs of natural and artificial origin (ponds, quarries, etc.), reed-covered, water meadows. As a rule, water bodies are located in sandy areas. Maturity occurs in the 3-4th year of life. According to data obtained outside of Russia, reproduction in April-July. The female lays on average 3-4 thousand eggs in the form of cords up to 3 m long. The sex ratio in the populations varies, normally males predominate (1.67-4: 1). The ecology of the species in Russia is practically not studied.

Strength: The view is common in the south-west. range, to sowing. and east. abundance decreases; here the species is distributed sporadically. Local estimates of population density in different countries are 1-10 individuals / ha, in the Baltic republics - 2-100 individuals / ha, in Belarus up to 25-200. In many countries, there has been a decrease in the number of species, mainly due to the destruction of human habitats. At the same time, it is regularly found in anthropogenic landscapes, which can be used to create local reserves.

Security: There is experience in captive breeding, in particular, in the Moscow Zoo. It is necessary to create local reserves in the habitats of the largest populations of reed toad in the Kaliningrad region.

A source: 1. Alimov et al., 1976, 2. Gruodis et al., 1986, 3. Darevsky, personal. Commun., 4. Beebee, 1986, 5. Pikulik, 1985, 6. Kuzmin, 1995a.


The reed toad is the loudest (the voice of males is heard for several kilometers) and at the same time the smallest of European toads. Parotoid glands are located behind the eyes. The eye pupil is horizontal. The parotid glands are rounded triangular. Skin with large tubercles of chestnut or slightly reddish color. Bottom gray-white. The skin of the back of the abdomen is grainy. Male with an unpaired throat resonator. The inner and second toads are approximately the same length. The fold of skin protruding along the lower leg is always very distinct, and the articular callus (under the last joint of the fourth finger) is always paired. The throat of males is lilac, and of females is white.

The reed toad cannot jump high and far. Swims poorly (dives quickly in deep ponds). It is able to get out of a deep pit, climb a stump, walk along the rough bark of a slightly inclined tree trunk. At the sight of the enemy, the reed toad tries to escape, but if it was disturbed and taken by surprise, then it pulls its skin out of fear, because of which all skin glands are emptied and cover the animal with a white foamy liquid that spreads an unpleasant odor.

Top olive, brownish, sometimes gray-sand color, often with a spotty pattern (spots of dark or greenish color), sometimes without it. A thin yellowish or light strip (sometimes absent) lies along the back of the toad.

Toads usually grow up to 6-8 cm, rarely up to 10 cm.


Open spaces with sandy (loose) soil. It occurs in glades of pine forests, gardens, parks, meadows, moorlands, dunes along the coast or sandy shores of lakes, rivers and reservoirs. The reed toad inhabits mainly in dry, warm, open areas with light soils bordering on moist depressions.

Nutrition / Food

Creeping invertebrates (ants, bugs, snails, worms, etc.). This is one of the few toads that actively pursue prey. The reed toad, having felt an attractive smell, turns in its direction and makes grasping movements with its mouth.

The reed toad leads a nocturnal lifestyle. In the afternoon hides under stones, in holes, sand. It falls into hibernation in September-October, digging deep holes for this. Toad, scratching with all legs and the corresponding movements of the body, often only expands the finished holes, but it is able to pull out new holes. In such cases, the toad moves backwards, scrubbing the ground with its solid horny ends of the toes of its hind legs, having reached a certain depth, it turns over and continues digging with its front legs, while its hind legs, like a mole, pushes open ground. Runs on all four legs, bending his back.


Toads ripen at the age of 3-4 years.

Photo © Thor Hakonsen

The female reed toad lays on average 3-4 thousand eggs in the form of cords up to 3 m long. Larvae appear for 5-8 days. Tadpoles of reed toad are the smallest of all tadpoles of European toads.

Of every 400 laid eggs, 32% die during the development process, 8% of the larvae die soon after birth, 24% due to the drying of the reservoir, 33% of the larvae end their lives in the stomachs of predators, and only a few young toads leave the water. Tadpoles feed on detritus. Depending on the water temperature, the metamorphosis lasts 5-16 weeks. Toads grow slowly, and, turning into small, mobile and brisk toads, leave water bodies. The toads just leaving the water are only 1 cm long and are not only extremely mobile, but also able to climb quickly, while pressing their belly.

Reed toad: description

It is an amphibian belonging to the large genus Toad (Bufo). Sometimes it is also called smelly toad (Bufo calamita). She belongs to the order Tailless. Toad, whose photo is not too common in animal publications, is a typical representative of its family, which lives on almost all continents, with the exception of Australia.

This is not to say that it is a big toad. This is a very small animal. Usually there are individuals about five centimeters long. Toads eight centimeters or more in length are extremely rare.

External features

The reed toad has an interesting color. Its back is painted in a light gray-olive color. It is covered with numerous dark spots. A light strip that runs along the middle of the back and head distinguishes this amphibian from the green toad, which is widespread today.

The skin is tuberous, but without spikes. This distinguishes it from frogs, in which the skin is completely smooth and protected from drying out by mucus. The skin of the reed toad is covered with numerous single small glands that secrete a toxic substance. Two more large glands are located near the ears. They are called mumps.

The abdomen is gray-white. The pupils of the eyes are horizontal. Males of this species of toads have powerful throat resonators, thanks to which they can be heard at a great distance. The second and inner fingers are approximately the same size. Males and females are distinguished by the color of the throat - in females it is painted white, and in males it is purple.

Defense against enemies

It is no coincidence that the reed toad received from nature such a modest coloration and poisonous glands. This is the only defense of these slow animals in the struggle for existence. Feeling the danger, the reed toad tries to escape, but when she fails to do this, then in fear she pulls herself away from her skin and becomes covered with a white foam that has an extremely unpleasant smell.

In order not to become the prey of a badger, crow or raccoon dog, the toad should be almost invisible. If the predator nevertheless managed to notice the amphibian and grab it, then you will not envy him. A lump of poisonous glands, reflexively releasing substances with a disgusting pungent odor, a very bitter taste, providing an emetic effect - you must admit that only a very hungry predator can be seduced by such a “delicacy”. The poisonous substances secreted by the glands to a person do not cause any harm and do not cause the appearance of warts (the most common misconception).


We have already said that the reed toad is common in Europe, in the east and north its range reaches the UK, it is also found in the south of Sweden, in western Belarus, in the north-west of Ukraine, in the Baltic states. On the territory of our country it can be seen only in the Kaliningrad region.

Prefers to live in the lowlands. He loves sandy light soils in well-warmed by the sun, dry and open areas. Inhabits the sandy banks of rivers, reservoirs, lakes, overgrown with herbaceous vegetation and shrubs, settles in heathlands.

You can see this toad in the meadows, at the edges of forests, at logging, where it is hidden under tree trunks, stacked in stacks. The reed toad feels comfortable on farmland (with loose soils). And in the Pyrenees it rises to a height of more than two and a half thousand meters above sea level.

Vivo behavior

After winter, the reed toad is active in late April. As a rule, it is active in twilight time, rarely shows activity during the day, usually it happens in cloudy weather.

During the dormant period (in winter), it hides in burrows or other shelters - in natural niches, under stones, in earthen cracks, and sometimes burrows in the soil. The basis of the diet is insects. During breeding practically does not eat food. Puberty begins at the age of four. Life expectancy is fifteen years.

The reed toad leaves for the winter in late August, when the air temperature drops to 10 ° C.

What does reed toad eat?

Reed toads prefer to feed on crawling invertebrates: ants, bugs, snails, worms and others.

This toad (photo you see below) is one of the few among its "relatives" who pursues its victim. Sensing the prey, she quickly turns to her side and grabs her mouth.


The reed toad breeds in shallow, heated, standing reservoirs densely overgrown with vegetation. Sometimes the female lays eggs in brackish ponds. For propagation, a water temperature of at least +18 ° C is required. This period lasts from the second half of April to the very end of July. Mass spawning mainly takes place in May or June.

Usually in the afternoon at this time, individuals are at the bottom of the reservoir. Caviar ropes have a width of five millimeters with a length of 1.6 meters. In rare cases, their length can reach 3.2 m. They are located at a shallow depth (not more than 20 cm). Eggs with a diameter of 1.6 mm are arranged in two rows. At one time, the female is able to lay up to 5250 eggs.

Larvae grow to 8.5 mm. Development lasts 55 days. The toad tadpole before metamorphosis grows to 28 mm. They feed on detritus, protozoa, phytoplankton and small crustaceans.

Toads of this species grow very slowly. When the tadpole becomes a small but brisk toad, the animal leaves the reservoir. Young individuals that have just entered land are only 1 centimeter long. They climb very adroitly, clutching the abdomen.


In the post-Soviet space, reed toad lives on the eastern edge of its range. This species is distributed extremely unevenly. In some regions, its numbers are quite large, while in others, there has been a decline in numbers and a decrease in habitats.

It occurs in some reserves. This species is protected by the Berne Convention (annex II). In many countries, a reed toad is a rare species. The Red Book of the USSR, as well as the Red Books of Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Russia, have added amphibian to their conservation lists. The ecology of this species has been studied insufficiently.

Reed toad: interesting facts

This toad is not able to jump well, like frogs, because it has shorter hind legs. Her jumps can be called neither high nor long.

Toad of this species is a very poor swimmer, so much so that once in a deep pond, it can easily drown.

But she can expertly climb a stump or get out of a deep hole. In addition, it easily creeps along an inclined tree trunk, but only if the bark has at least a slight roughness.

And one more interesting fact. The reed toad moves very interestingly: it does not crawl, does not jump, but runs, and on all four legs, amusingly bending its back. In this way, it resembles a mouse-like rodent, and not a tailless amphibian.

The reed toad has been awarded the title of the loudest toad in the world. The frequency of sounds made by males during the mating season reaches one and a half thousand hertz.

Sometimes reed toads choose for nesting swallows nests on sandy shores. In one mink several toads can settle.