The body length of males in Central Europe is up to nine cm, females grow up to twelve cm long. Most adult European toads weight between 30 and 50 g (males) and between 50 and 100 g (females). The relatively plump animals have a stocky body, covered with warty skin glands on the upperpart, with a broad, short-nosed rounded head. On the back of the head there are prominent, paired, bean-shaped glands (parotids), which contain skin toxins to ward off predators. The upperparts are usually grayish to reddish brown; males are sometimes blackish brown or even light clay-colored, while females are more red. Washed-out dark spots may also be present, primarily in males. The underparts are dirty white in both sexes, with gray-black speckling throughout. The pupils are horizontally elliptical in shape, and the iris appears coppery to reddish gold ("amber"). European toads have rather short hind legs and move forward striding on all fours, but also hopping when disturbed. Males can also be identified at mating time by the brown to black nuptial pads on each of their three inner fingers. They also have stronger front legs, a flatter head, and remain smaller on average than females. Male European toads, unlike European green toads or natterjack toads, for example, do not possess vocal sacs.
The European toad is a cold-blooded animal that is generally active at dusk. During the day, the animals rest under stones, crumbled walls, dead wood, foliage, shrubbery, or in burrows they have dug themselves. As terrestrial habitats, they colonize a wide spectrum of biotopes, ranging from forests to semi-open landscapes of meadows, pastures, and hedgerows to semi-natural gardens. Herb-rich forests (especially deciduous and mixed forests) without complete tree canopy closure are particularly preferred; settlement density is somewhat lower in closed upland forests. Floodplains are also not completely avoided, but are less favorable. Compared to other amphibian species, the European toad also occurs more frequently in alternately wet to dry forests. Orchard meadows and park-like landscapes are particularly popular because of the varied structures. The species is also found in drier habitats (e.g. vineyards, sand pits), but avoids very dry warm places.
Its occurrence in residential areas, parks, gardens, allotments, backyards, damp cellars, ruins and cemeteries justifies the designation "synanthropic species". Even in the midst of small towns, European toads can sometimes be found. Unsuitable habitats are, above all, intensively used farmland without field copses, vineyards that have been cleared of vegetation, and large-scale coniferous monocultures. The species also cannot exist where spawning waters are lacking over large areas.
Medium-sized to larger ponds, pools and lakes are mainly used as breeding waters. Still waters in or near the forest are colonized with great consistency. However, shallow and silting small water bodies are avoided by the European toad; a sufficiently large free body of water is a prerequisite for use as spawning habitat. The water depth should not be less than 50 cm; a weak flow is tolerated. Because of the inedibility of the larvae, the European Toad, unlike other amphibians, also spawns successfully in fish ponds.
The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erdkröte). On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 25 June 2021