The Berber Toad – Sclerophrys mauritanica – Sapo moruno is a medium-sized toad native to North Africa. An introduced population was also present in Spain close to Los Alcornocales Natural Park but numbers are unknown with some authorities declaring the species extinct in Spain. It is present in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, where it colonizes a multitude of habitats, although it is more abundant in areas of cork oak forests and mediterranean shrubland.
This species is known for its distinctive appearance, with smooth, warty skin and large, gold-colored eyes with vertical pupils. The Berber Toad is a nocturnal species that feeds primarily on insects and can be found in a variety of habitats, from semi-arid areas to urban environments. While it is currently listed as a species of “Least Concern” by the IUCN
The Berber Toad is a medium-sized toad with a smooth, warty skin that ranges in color from light gray or olive to reddish-brown or almost black. It has a broad head and large eyes with vertical pupils, and its pupils are yellow or gold. The toad has a rounded body and short, stocky legs with webbed toes. Adults can reach up to 11 cm in length.
Habitat and behavior
The Berber Toad is native to North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, where it can be found in a variety of habitats including semi-arid areas, Mediterranean scrubland, oak forests, and even urban areas. It is a nocturnal species that spends most of its time hiding in crevices, under rocks or logs, or in burrows. During the breeding season, which typically occurs in the spring or early summer, males will gather near water sources and call to attract females. The species is also known for its ability to secrete a toxic substance from its skin as a defense mechanism.
The Berber Toad is a carnivorous species that feeds primarily on insects such as crickets, beetles, and ants. It will also occasionally consume other small invertebrates such as spiders and snails.
Breeding typically occurs in the spring or early summer, with males gathering near water sources and emitting a distinctive trilling call to attract females. After mating, the female will lay strings of eggs in water or on damp surfaces, with each string containing up to several thousand eggs. The eggs hatch into tadpoles, which will metamorphose into toadlets after several weeks.
The Berber Toad is listed as a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), indicating that it is not currently at significant risk of extinction. However, habitat destruction and fragmentation, as well as pollution and disease, may pose threats to local populations.
The Berber Toad – Sclerophrys mauritanica – Sapo moruno Status in Spain
An introduced population was also present in Spain close to Los Alcornocales Natural Park but numbers are unknown with some authorities declaring the species extinct in Spain.
Specimens have been introduced in the surroundings of Algeciras (Cadiz), where they have managed to reproduce (MATEO, 1997). They are considered to be of ancient introduction here, as there are specimens captured in the same region in 1911 deposited in the MNCN of Madrid (numbers 2,990, 3,001). There have been no described interactions with native amphibians, and the current status of this population is unknown, although it could be extinct as it has not been located recently (J.A. BARNESTEIN, pers. comm.).
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