Q: What is 14 cm long, with reddish brown blotches and rough skin and makes a snoring sound and lives in Noordhoek?!
A: The Western Leopard Toad (also called the August Toad or the Snoring Toad)
Most Noordhoek residents would have got this answer correct as the Western Leopard Toad is also a resident of our beautiful valley and is only found in the coastal lowlands in the Western Cape. It is not normally found more than 10km inland.
This beautiful and amazing Toad is easily recognised by its Leopard-like spots and it is a big toad. What makes the Western Leopard toad interesting is that it is known as an “explosive breeder” meaning that all breeding is restricted to short bursts (4- 10 days), rather than continuously throughout the year. Breeding for the Western Leopard Toad takes place between August and September but all depending on the rains! (Last year 2011 breeding started on the 3 August!)
When breeding starts the Western Leopard Toads converge on selected breeding sites (normally ponds – as they do spend most of their time on the ground and away from water). As the toads arrive the males will call from the vegetation (a distinctive snoring sound) to find a mate.
The females start arriving, the male clasps the larger female from behind ready to fertilise the eggs as they are laid. Each female produces about 25 000 eggs, which are laid in long gelatinous strings and hatch into small tadpoles. After 10 -12 weeks the tadpoles undergo a metamorphoses and transform into 1cm long adults. They little toads leave the water but very few survive to maturity.
The Western Leopard Toad is legally protected in South Africa as it is classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Volunteers help rescue toads from the roads during the breeding season as the poor toads have to cross roads, buildings and gardens to reach the breeding grounds and are often squashed by fast moving vehicles – especially as the toads start their migration on rainy dark nights and it is difficult for motorists to spot them!
Big SHOUT OUT to these amazing TOAD NUTS (Noordhoek Unpaid Toad Savers) who’s entire aim is to save the endangered Western Leopard toad from extinction. We strongly recommend following them on Facebook too as they post the daily Toad traffic report! These concerned citizens do Toad Patrol – walking the dark rainy and often very cold streets of Noordhoek looking for toads and helping them cross the roads!
In addition they take photos of the toads – each toad has unique markings (like a human fingerprint) so the photos are helping to identify the toads and monitor the population!
Toad Traffic Report:
As of today the 3rd August 2012, no toads have started their movement to the ponds yet! Rain is forecast so maybe tonight the migration will start! The patrollers will certainly be on high alert from this evening as the migration is due any day now!
What can you do?
- Volunteer to be a Toad Nut – In Noordhoek Call Suzie on 082 476 1016
Western Leopard Toad Hotline: 082 516 3602
- Drive carefully on dark, rainy roads at night
- If you see a Toad – take a photo of the back of the toad to show its markings (use something to show the scale too!), then upload your image plus date, time and location. CLICK HERE to load your picture.
Read more about Toad projects in other areas in the Cape Peninsula.
Noordhoek Farm Village:
Info office tel: 021 789 2812