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African Red Toad, Schismaderma Carens

The African Red Toad, Schismaderma Carens, known also as the African Split-Skin Toad, is a species of toad belonging to the family Bufonidae. It’s monotypic within the genus Schismaderma. It is located in Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and possibly Lesotho. The natural habitats are dry savanna, moist savanna, tropical or subtropical dry shrubland, tropical or subtropical moist shrubland, tropical or subtropical dry lowland grassland, freshwater marshes, pastureland, water storage areas, ponds, canals and ditches, intermittent freshwater marshes, arable land, urban areas, and man-made karsts.

This frog is of moderate to large size, the males reaching 88 millimeters and the females reaching 92 millimeters long. It has a less warty back than many toads of the same size. There is a distinct dorsolateral glandular ridge that runs from above the tympanum to the hind leg. The outer portion of this ridge is darker on the lower edge. The tympanum itself is large and round with a diameter almost equivalent to that of the eye. Parotoid glands aren’t visible. The breeding males have vocal sacs, as well as nuptial pads on their first three fingers for amplexus. The tarsal fold is present in this toad.

The back is characteristically marked by a couple of small dark brown spots on the lower back and another couple of markings on the shoulders. The dorsal coloring is reddish, hence the common name of the Red Toad. The ground color is pale brown and even a little pinkish at times. The flanks are either very dark or pale. The underside is spotted with gray.

The tadpole has a strange horseshoe shaped flap of skin on the head.

After a heavy rainfall, the toad breeds during the day in deep muddy water. The males reach the breeding grounds, among the younger vegetation in the deep water, before the females. Dense spacing is normal, with males separated by as little as 300 millimeters from each other. The males proceed to call and chase each other, while actively trying to mate with other frogs. The females then enter the area in response to the calls. The eggs are laid in a double string during amplexus while the pair moves slowly in the water, producing rows of egg strings. The eggs may be attached to the vegetation, and the females leave shortly after laying their eggs. The size of the clutch is 2500, with each egg 1.6 to 2.5 millimeters in diameter. Since myriad toads lay their eggs at similar times, the waters may be filled with upwards of tens of thousands of eggs at one time. The period of development from egg to toadlet ranges from 37 to 52 days.

This species has gregarious tadpoles, sometimes found in mixed swarms with tadpoles of the African bullfrog. These tadpoles are unique morphologically because of a horseshoe shaped flap of skin on the head.

The adult molts at four day intervals.

Image Caption: African red toad on the Springbok Flats, Limpopo, South Africa. Credit: JMK/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

African Red Toad Schismaderma Carens


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