Midwife toads in Spain

Midwife toads in Spain

Midwife toads (Alytes obstetricans) are actually frogs, not toads. They belong to the family Alytidae (formerly Discoglossidae), which is a group of frogs that are found in Europe and northern Africa. They are called “midwife toads” because of their unique breeding behavior, in which the male carries the fertilized eggs on his hind legs, but they are not classified as toads. Toads and frogs are both amphibians, but they are different groups of animals. Toads are generally stockier and have rough, warty skin, while frogs are typically more slender and have smooth skin.

Alytes obstetricans is a widespread species that can be found throughout most of Europe.

There are 4 species of midwife toads found in Spain. It’s worth noting that the actual number of species might change depending on the classification system used by different studies and the definition of a species.

Identification is often aided by the geographic location

Midwife Toad – Alytes obstetricans – Sapo partero común

The most widespread and found from Eastern Andalucia to the Northern Spain, the Pyrenees and Northern Portugal

Iberian midwife Toad – Alytes cisternasii – Sapo partero ibérico

The Iberian midwife toad or brown midwife toad (Alytes cisternasii), in Portuguese sapo-parteiro-ibérico is a species of frog in the family Alytidae (formerly Discoglossidae) found in Portugal and north western Spain

Betic Midwife Toad – Alytes dickhilleni – Sapo partero bético

The Betic midwife toad or Sapo Partero Bético (Alytes dickhilleni) is a species of frog in the family Alytidae (formerly Discoglossidae). It is endemic to mountainous in south eastern Spain. Its natural habitats are temperate forests, freshwater marshes, intermittent freshwater marshes, pastureland and ponds. It is threatened by habitat loss.

The Betic midwife toad is native to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in south eastern Spain. The population is fragmented as different mountains support separate populations. It is fairly common on the Alcaraz, Segura and Cazorla Mountains but less common on the drier Filabres, Baza and Gádor peaks. It is generally found in oak and pine forests and in open rocky areas, mostly on limestone, at altitudes between 700 and 2,000 metres (2,300 and 6,600 ft). In drier parts it tends to be near spring

Mallorcan midwife toad – Alytes muletensis – Sapillo balear

Endemic to Majorca, the Majorcan midwife toad (also Mallorcan midwife toad or ferreret) is found only in the mountainous regions and gorges of the Serra de Tramuntana. In this area, the species inhabits streams in limestone caverns, where they hide under boulders and stones.

Currently the species is protected as a Majorcan endemic species, and breeding programs have been started to prevent the extinction of this species. The number of wild animals is estimated at around 300 to 700 breeding pairs. It was previously housed and bred at the Durrell Wildlife Park, with the goal of releasing into the wild, which was successful

Further reading

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_midwife_toad
In Spanish on Fauna Iberica website: https://www.faunaiberica.org/sapo-partero

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