Crapaud des Joncs
(Syn Franaise. Crapaud Calamite)
Natterjack Toads grow to about 10cm and have short rear legs; front and rear feet have little webbing. Their head is narrow in comparison to the body and they have eyes with horizontal pupils. The back is greyish green and spotted with darker markings, covered in warts which can often be brightly coloured with red or yellow. There is a yellow band which runs down the centre of the back for the entire length. Light colour underneath with darker speckling. Tend to run rather than walk or hop, hence they are often called the running toad in the UK.
They are to be found in all regions of France but are generally confined to very light or sandy soils with shallow lakes or ponds and an open aspect, typically sand dunes, heathlands, sand and gravel excavation sites, and to some extent vineyards and asparagus fields. Mainly nocturnal they spend the day in holes in the ground which they frequently makes themselves. They have a very laud call or croak in short bursts of a second or two which can sometimes be heard during the day as well as during the night. Diet is made up of insects, worms, small slugs and where they are present by the coastline they will search the tide line for marine invertebrates. When threatened they can emit a foul smell and inflate their body. Hibernation takes place from October until the end of February in underground holes and cavities.
Reproduction starts in April and can extend throughout the summer, females produce up to 7500 eggs but normally 3000 to 4000 laid in single strands, these hatch after 4 to 6 days possibly longer depending on the temperature of the water, metamorphosis is around 7 weeks later.
Populations have fallen quite dramatically probably due to habit loss and human disturbance; there is now severe fragmentation and isolation of populations.