Dodson's toad (Duttaphrynus dodsoni)
|Synonyms:||Bufo brevipalmata, Bufo dodsoni|
|Size||Snout-vent length: up to 5.9 cm (2)|
- The male Dodson’s toad produces a call that sounds like the short, sharp bark of a dog.
- Dodson’s toad is found in dry habitats, often far from the nearest permanent water source.
- During particularly dry periods, Dodson’s toad becomes dormant, sheltering in a burrow, well, or a deep fissure among rocks.
- Dodson’s toad breeds in temporary pools formed after rain. The tadpoles develop into adults in just six weeks.
Dodson’s toad is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Dodson’s toad (Duttaphrynus dodsoni) is a medium-sized East African toad with a short, rounded snout and relatively large, prominent parotoid glands. The eardrum, or tympanum, is also large and distinct, being about the same size as the eye (2) (3).
The hind limbs of Dodson’s toad are fairly short, and there is limited webbing between the digits. The upperparts of the body have scattered, rounded warts running down either side, while the skin of the underparts is slightly coarse and granular (2) (3).
Dodson’s toad is olive-brown to grey above, with orange warts and slightly darker spots over the body and limbs. There are also large, distinctive black spots below and slightly in front of the eyes. The underside of Dodson’s toad is whitish, and there are dark bands on the limbs. Juvenile Dodson’s toads are brighter in colour than the adults (2) (3).
The male Dodson’s toad has a white vocal sac situated just under the throat, and produces a call that sounds much like a short, sharp dog’s bark (2) (3).
Dodson’s toad is found in East Africa, from Egypt in the north, southwards through Sudan, Eritrea, eastern Ethiopia and Djibouti, to northern and central Somalia (1) (3).
This species is fairly common and widespread in Somalia and on the coast of Sudan, whereas in Ethiopia and Eritrea it is less common and more localised. In Egypt, Dodson’s toad is only present in small numbers in the south-eastern region of Gebel Elba (1) (3).
Dodson’s toad inhabits extremely dry, arid habitats, and is often found far from the nearest permanent water source (1). It commonly occurs in rocky, arid wadis (2) (3), and will also breed in temporary pools in semi-desert savanna, in water in caves, and in permanent pools, known as ‘gheltas’, at the foot of cliffs or at the mouth of caves (1) (3).
Dodson’s toad has been observed from sea level up to elevations of around 1,800 metres (1) (2) (3). During periods of extended drought, individuals may retreat to higher elevations where there is slightly greater humidity (3).
When it is too dry for Dodson’s toad, it aestivates for long periods within humid shelters such as burrows, wells or deep fissures among rocks (1) (2). Individuals only emerge after rainfall, when they breed in temporary pools. These pools are used because of the lack of potential predators which could eat the eggs and tadpoles (2) (3). However, Dodson’s toad has also been observed to breed in permanent water bodies, such as pools at the mouths of caves or at the foot of cliffs (3).
Tadpole development in Dodson’s toad is quite rapid, with metamorphosis from tadpole to adult toad taking approximately six weeks. It takes the adult about a year to reach full size (2) (3).
In some parts of its range, Dodson’s toad has been observed at night, and it often sits in an elevated position as it looks out for passing prey. In captivity, this species appears to prefer relatively large prey items (2) (3).
Dodson’s toad is not currently considered to be at risk of extinction, as it occupies many habitat types across northeast Africa and has a high tolerance of very dry conditions (1) (3). The only major threat to Dodson’s toad is the spread of human settlement, as this can lead to increases in domestic livestock, which affect the quality of breeding pools (1).
Dodson’s toad occurs in Awash National Park in Ethiopia and the Gebel Elba area of Egypt, both of which are protected areas. However, in Somalia, where the largest population of this toad lives, it is not currently protected (1).
There are not known to be any other conservation measures specifically targeted at this widespread amphibian.
Find out more about Dodson’s toad and other amphibians:
More information on amphibian conservation:
IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group:
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- Aestivate: to become dormant during the summer or dry season, analogous to hibernation in winter.
- Metamorphosis: an abrupt physical change from the larval to the adult form.
- Parotoid glands: a pair of large, external skin glands which appear as swellings on the shoulders, neck or behind the eye of toads and some salamanders. The parotoid glands secrete a toxic, milky substance to deter predators.
- Tympanum: also known as the eardrum. A thin membrane that transmits sounds from the air to the middle ear.
- Wadis: mountain canyons found in North Africa and the Middle East that only carry water when it rains.