These toads have a brown or reddish brown dorsal surface with bold yellow reticulations. The dorsum also has low, rounded non-spinose tubercles. The dorsum of the head is uniformly brown, with a cream-colored chin and lower lip. The upper lip is not flange-like. The venter is dull gray and tuberculate. The limbs are banded, the antebrachium, thigh, crus and pes each with two bands. The adult cranial crests are low. An anterorbital notch is present at the junction of the supraorbital and canthal crests. The tympanum is large and the parotoid glands are very large, and placed diagonally behind the head casque. The juvenile pattern is very different from the adult pattern, with the dorsum either vivid green or reddish brown, with three prominent pairs of blotches and a black interocular triangle. The adult size is large, averaging 163 mm in females and 128 mm in males (Ruiz 1987; Schwartz and Henderson 1985; Schwartz and Henderson 1985 1991)
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Cuba
This species is endemic to Cuba, Isla de la Juventud and Archipiélago de Sabana-Camaguey. This species is found from Matanzas province to the easternmost tip of Cuba, from sea level to moderate elevations. It occurs in forests, cultivated fields, along stream banks and around rural houses. It is also commonly found near the ocean.
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
These toads are nocturnal, with activity peaks between 22:00 and 23:00 hours and 01:00 and 03:00 hours. By day, these toads remain under rocks, in soil cracks, culverts, drain pipes, under palm trunks and trash, in cavities they excavate, and even in burrows of Speotyto cunicularia (Burrowing owls, Sijú de sabana). Males vocalize from the ground, forming dense choruses in the edges of shallow, slowly running streams and flooded ditches. Calls consist of periodic notes containing two or three amplitude modulations. The dominant frequency is around 0.7 kHz. These calls are like a “pap-pap-pap,” giving rise to the vernacular Cuban name. Breeding males have nuptial excrescences on their thumbs. The amplexus is axillary; the eggs are laid in double strings. Food primarily includes Hymenoptera (especially ants) and Coleoptera, although other groups are also included, such as the following: Blatoptera, Lepidoptera, Homoptera, Hemiptera, Dermaptera, Orthoptera, Diptera, Diplopoda, Arachnida, Chilopoda, Crustacea, Gastropoda and Oligochaeta. Flatworms (Mesocoelium crossophorum), tapeworms (Batrachotaenia bufonis) and nematodes (Abbreviata baracoa, Aplectana hamatospicula, Neyraplectana sp., Oswaldocruzia lenteixeirai, Rhabdias elegans) parasitize this species. It can inflate itself to prevent ingestion by predators (Lando and Williams 1969; Valdes 1978; Valdes and Ruiz 1979; Coy and Lorenzo 1982; Sampedro et al. 1982; Sampedro and Berovides 1985; Ruiz 1987; Valdes 1989; Schwartz and Henderson 1991; Alonso and Rodriguez 2003).
Relation to Humans
Some people in Cuba believe that this toad is able to cure erysipelas, so they rub a toad in the affected region of the body to presumably obtain a cure.
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Synonyms- Peltaphryne peltocephala (Tschudi, 1835) Etymology- From the Greek pelte = shield, cephalus = head Related species- B. fustiger, B. taladai
Alonso, R., and Rodríguez, A. (2003). ''Advertisement calls of Cuban toads of the genus Bufo (Anura, Bufonidae).'' Phyllomedusa, 2(2), 75-82.
Coy, A., and Lorenzo, N. (1982). ''Lista de los helmintos parásitos de los vertebrados silvestres cubanos.'' Poeyana, 235, 1-57.
Lando, R.V., and Williams, E.E. (1969). ''Notes on the herpetology of the U. S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.'' Studies Fauna Curacao Caribbean Islands, 31(116), 159-201.
Ruiz, F. N. (1987). Anfibios de Cuba. Cientifíco-Técnica, La Habana.
Sampedro, A., Berovides, V., and Torres, O. (1982). ''Hábitos alimenticios y actividad de Bufo peltocephalus Tschudy (Amphibia: Bufonidae) en el Jardín Botánico de Cienfuegos.'' Poeyana, 233(1-14), 1-14.
Sampedro, A., and Berovides, V. (1985). ''Ecología trófica y actividad de Bufo peltocephalus (Amphibia: Anura) durante los períodos de seca y lluvia, en el Jardín Botánico de Cienfuegos.'' Poeyana, 297, 1-8.
Schwartz, A . and Henderson, R. W. (1985). A Guide to the Identification of the Amphibians and Reptiles of the West Indies Exclusive of Hispaniola. Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee.
Schwartz, A. and Henderson, R. W. (1991). Amphibians and Reptiles of the West Indies: Descriptions, Distributions and Natural History. University Press of Florida, Florida.
Valdés, A. (1978). ''Utilización del nido de Speotyto cunicularis (Aves: Strigiformes) como refugio por Bufo peltocephalus (Amphibia: Bufonidae).'' Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 7(4).
Valdés, A. (1989). ''Systematics comments on Peltophryne peltocephala (Anura: Bufonidae) in the Cuban Archipelago.'' Caribbean Journal of Science, 24(1-2), 39-43.
Valdés, A., and Ruiz, F. N. (1979). ''Manifestación del patrón conductual de aumento de volumen en bufónidos cubanos.'' Miscellaneous Zoology, 8, 3-4.
Originally submitted by: Ansel Fong G. (first posted 2004-11-03)
Edited by: Anisha Gandhi (2005-03-31)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2005 Peltophryne peltocephala: Eastern Cuba Giant Toad <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/406> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 4, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 4 Jun 2023.
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