The Betic midwife toad is a rather shy, nocturnal amphibian, spending much of the day hidden away in damp underground refuges, close to water (3). Like other midwife toads, this species displays a rather unusual breeding behaviour, in which the male provides all of the parental care (6).
During the breeding season, the male Betic midwife toad has a rather distinctive, ringing call and will also make short, ‘peeping’ calls from its underground burrow to attract the female (3). Calls are the primary mating display of this species (7), and the male may also call from open ground or from crevices, usually within 50 metres of where the tadpoles will eventually develop (6). The female midwife will respond to the advertising male by calling back in reply, which is fairly unusual among most species of frogs and toads (6).
During mating, the male grasps the female firmly in a mating embrace known as amplexus, during which the female will produce a long string of eggs. As in other midwife toads, the male Betic midwife toad then begins a complicated procedure to fertilise the eggs and then wrap the string around its hind legs (3) (6). The male will often mate with several females during the breeding season, and is typically able carry up to three clutches of eggs at a time (6).
The eggs remain bound to the hind legs of the male for around a month, with the male providing all of the care for the eggs, protecting them from predation and preventing them from drying out (3) (6). During this time, the male will frequently shelter in damp refuges or under stones, sometimes visiting pools of water to keep the eggs moist (3). Once the eggs are ready to hatch, the male will deposit them in water. Betic midwife toad tadpoles develop over a long period of time (1), often up to a year (6), in permanent mountain streams, man-made reservoirs or cattle troughs (1).
The Betic midwife toad has a fairly varied diet. The adult toad typically feeds on a range of invertebrates, including beetles, crickets, flies, caterpillars, centipedes and millipedes. Tadpoles of this species feed mainly on plant matter (3).
The Betic midwife toad is unusual among amphibians in having a powerful defence mechanism against predators. Like other members of its family, the back of the midwife toad is covered in small warts which produce a potent, strong-smelling poison when threatened (3).