AMPHIBIAWEB
Mertensophryne taitana
Taita Toad
family: Bufonidae
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
CITES
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Congo, the Democratic Republic of the, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, United Republic of, Zambia

 

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.

   

From the Encyclopedia of Life account:

Size

Snout-vent lengths of males range from 25 to 31 mm, and females are 32 to 35 mm (Harper et al., 2010).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Diagnostic Description

This is a small thin toad. Both sexes are light brown to grey with darker markings. The tympanum is not visible. The parotid glands are long and flat. The ventrum is pale. Males have a conspicuous black chest. The first finger is shorter than the second. Toes are only slightly webbed. Males in breeding condition have distinct dark nuptial pads (Text from Harper et al., 2010).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Comparisons

M. taitana is very similar to other members of the genus, but it can be distinguished by the black chest of the males and by the distinctly long raised parotid glands (Text from Harper et al., 2010).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Habitat and Ecology

This species is found in wooded grassland and open savanna at elevations up to 1300 m. It tolerates some degree of habitat alteration and can be found in agricultural areas. It is typically associated with sandy soil (Harper et al., 2010).


Authors: Zimkus, Breda; Travis, Bergmann
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Population Biology

This species appears to be absent from much of the Taita Hills with the majority of individuals from Mbololo and a few records from the Macha area (Text from Measey et al. 2009, © SANBI).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Activity and Special Behaviors

Once they have bred, the small toads disappear into the surrounding area and are rarely seen again until the time they breed again in November. Some animals have been found on shambas, but little is known about this species away from its breeding site (Text from Measey et al. 2009, © SANBI).


Author: Travis, Bergmann
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Modes and Mechanisms of Locomotion

The adults have a curious habit of sometimes walking on the tips of their toes. It is not known why (Text from Measey et al. 2009, © SANBI).


Author: Travis, Bergmann
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Metamorphosis

The tadpoles transform into metamorphs in a very short period of time, around two weeks which is amongst the fastest recorded for any frog (Text from Measey et al. 2009, © SANBI).

Larvae can reach metamorphosis in as little as 13 days (Harper et al., 2010).


Authors: Zimkus, Breda; Travis, Bergmann
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Advertisement Call

This species is very curious as, unlike most other frogs, males do not have an advertisement call. Recent work in the Taita Hills of Kenya has found that if disturbed they will emit a small distress call (like many frogs), but no advertisement call has been heard. Instead both males and females congregate in puddles in the road during November, some weeks into the short rains (Text from Measey et al. 2009, © SANBI).

This species has no advertisement call although both males and females will emit a distress call (Text from Harper et al., 2010).


Authors: Zimkus, Breda; Travis, Bergmann
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Reproduction

These small toads (25 to 35 mm long) seem to congregate on a daily basis with eggs being laid in long strings (about 300 eggs per string). Breeding has only been observed in puddles on roads (Text from Measey et al. 2009, © SANBI).

It breeds in streams and temporary pools especially road puddles where adults congregate for only a few days of the year (typically November). Males congregate at pools and many can ambush females on arrival, forming small balls of individuals. Eggs are laid in strings (up to 350 eggs; Text from Harper et al., 2010).


Authors: Zimkus, Breda; Travis, Bergmann
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Tadpole morphology

The tadpoles hatch from the eggs very fast and bury into the mud at the sides of the puddle to feed there. Each tadpole has a crown of tissue on its head that helps with the low concentration of oxygen in these puddles (Text from Measey et al. 2009, © SANBI).

Larvae have a distinctive crown on their heads. They feed on the soft mud at the edges of their temporary puddles with only their flickering tails visible from above (Text from Harper et al., 2010).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/