Active during both day and night, the well-camouflaged Arabian toad can often be found in groups within damp crevices, seeking shelter from direct sunlight. While prey typically consists of insects, during periods of drought small fish which have become trapped in evaporating shallow puddles and cut-off from deeper water may be consumed. Cannibalism is also known to be widespread, with the larger adult toads consuming the smaller juveniles (2) (3).
During extended periods of drought, when surface water sources and moist shelters, such as rock crevices or rodent burrows, are scarce or absent, the Arabian toad will excavate a hollow in the ground. Here it can persist for extended periods by entering a dormant state, analogous to hibernation, known as aestivation. Incredibly, this species’ aestivation periods are believed to last as long as three years. Outside of aestivation, the Arabian toad emerges rapidly from refuges in response to rain or even drizzle, and may form large congregations. The carpet viper (Echis omanensis), which feeds predominantly on toads, also becomes active during this time in order to take advantage of the abundance of prey. Despite the fact that the skin of the Arabian toad, like many Bufo species, produces a noxious chemical, it does not seem to affect native predators, such as snakes and Brandt’s hedgehog (Paraechinus hypomelas) (2).
The Arabian toad breeds opportunistically throughout the year, depositing large numbers of eggs in the form of black, pearl-like strings in any available stagnant or slow-moving water source (1) (2). In temporary habitats, however, breeding takes places following rains, giving the tadpoles a only a short time to develop before the body of water dries up (2).