Derivation of scientific name (if known) The species name gutturalis derives from the loud calls of the guttural toad.
Common names: guttural toad (Eng.); gorrelskurwepadda (Afr.), ixoxo lembodlomane (isiZulu); ixoxo, isogode (isiXhosa), chela (Xitsonga)
First sentence/opening paragraph.
The guttural toad is very common. It is spreading throughout southern Africa as its population increases. It can live in a variety of environments and is very adaptable. It has no major predators and does not suffer much from habitat loss. The rapid increase of this toad poses a threat to the wildlife in the Western Cape, such as to the western leopard toad, Amietophrynus pantherinus.
Description/How to recognise a…….
The guttural toad is a large species with males growing to a snout-to-vent length of up to 90 mm and females 120 mm. The upper surface is buffish brown with variable irregular dark brown markings. There are two pairs of brown spots between the eyes making a cross-like mark, and there is often a pale stripe down the spine. The arms are edged by distinctive white tubercles and there is a red patch on the back of the thighs. The underparts are pale and granular and the male has a dark throat. The parotid glands (found behind the eyes on toads, some frogs and salamanders) are prominent and the toes are only slightly webbed. There are separate bands of white tubercles underneath the leg. There are no warts in the large parotid glands behind both ears. The back of the guttural toad is adorned with a bilateral pattern outlined in dark brown. There is a a faint vertebral line running down the back. The underside of the guttural toad is whitish and in breeding season red patches can be seen behind the thighs. Male guttural toads have darker throats during breeding season. If the guttural toad feels threatened, it may secrete a white, milky fluid from the parotid glands.
Guttural toads are terrestrial, but they occur in or around water bodies such as ponds. They forage at night and seek shelter under rocks, logs and in between gutters during the day. The guttural toad moves fast from one area to another, on paved surfaces and in dense vegetation.
Male guttural toads call from breeding pools that are permanent and temporary. The calls are louder in October and November, just after the first rains, but they call throughout the year. The call is loud with a slow throbbing snore; it is said it sounds like something being cut “rrrrrrr rrrrrrr”. The female guttural toad selects a male based on his call, which she is attracted to.
Guttural toads are widespread across Africa but is not found in the southern parts of South Africa, southern Namibia, central Africa and arid regions of western Botswana. The guttural toad is native to South Africa but not to the Western Cape. In 2000, the guttural toad was found in Cape Town, where it is not native, and since then the numbers have been increasing.
The guttural toad occurs in thickets, savannahs, grasslands and is common in urban areas where there are garden ponds. During the day they seek out shady places such as under rocks or logs.
Guttural toad feeds on lizards, insects and also other frogs such as the common squeaker, Arthroleptis stenodactylus, which is found in sub-Saharan Africa.
SEX and LIFE CYCLES
Sex: It has been recorded that the guttural toad breeds in late July and early August, the end of September to November is the peak breeding time. Females can lay between 15 000 and 25 000 eggs per clutch and each egg is 1.4–1.5 mm in diameter. Eggs are laid around vegetation in pools, usually at the edge, and the eggs are produced in two 5 mm diameter gelatinous strings. Eggs hatch after a week and after two months they begin to develop back legs and later front legs (metamorphosis). The guttural toad can live up to seven years.
Family life: The guttural toad population and its spatial distribution emerges every year. Adult and juvenile guttural toads can disperse across the pond, but only adults can breed.
THE BIG PICTURE
Friends and Foes
Guttural toads compete with the western leopard toad, Amietophrynus pantherinus, for forage and interferes with their reproduction, preventing the western leopard toad from persevering in a habitat invaded by the guttural toad. The Guttural toad is prey to the black-necked spitting cobra, Naja nigricollis, the serrated terrapin, Pelusios sinuatus and the African civet, Viverra civetta.
Guttural toads can easily adapt to most environments, including urban areas.
Poorer world without me
Guttural toads forage on pests such as insects and slugs that are feeding on plants or crops in farms or gardens. These toads also feed on moths and beetles during night time in houses. The guttural toad is used to humans and they will repeatedly return to houses to feed on moths and beetles in homes.
People & I
In Taita Hills, Wundanyi, Kenya, the community frequently come across the guttural toad and this explains it’s Kitaita name ‘Kiwandu’, which means ‘the people’s frog’.
Conservation status and what the future holds
On the IUCN Red List, the conservation status of the guttural toad is Least Concern, regionallyand globally. There are no known threats to the guttural toad, but they do pose a threat to the western leopard toad by competing for resources.
The population number is unknown, but it was found that the guttural toad is hybridising with the Rangers toad, Bufo rangeri. This might help explain why the population of the guttural toad is continuingly increasing and spreading. The guttural toad is in the same genus as the western leopard toad, Sclerophrys pantherina, raucous toad, Sclerophrys capensis and Garman’s toad, Sclerophrys garmani.
Official Common Name: Guttural toad
Scientific Name and Classification:
Scientific name: Sclerophrys gutturalis
Species: S. gutturalis (Power, 1927)
References and further reading
- Channing, A. 2001. Guttural toad. Amphibians of Central and Southern Africa. Cornell University Press, New York.
- Kruger, N. 2017. Parasite introduction to the Endangered western leopard toad: Spill over or spill back? Master’s thesis. North-West University, Potchefstroom.
- Measey, G.J., Malonza, P.K. & Muchai, V. 2009. Amphibians of Taita Hills. SANBI Biodiversity Series 12. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
- Telford, N. 2013. The invasive guttural toad, Amietophrynus gutturalis. Master’s thesis. University of the Western Cape, Cape Town.
- Turner, A.A. & De Villiers, A.L. 2017. Amphibians. State of biodiversity. Scientific Services, CapeNature. pp. 126-138.
- Vimercati, G. 2017. Exploring the invasion of the guttural toad, Sclerophrys gutturalis, in Cape Town through a multidisciplinary approach. PhD thesis. University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town.
- Volk, W., Fouche, P.S.O., Cook, C. L., Wepener, V. & Wegenaar, G.M. 2019. An assessment of the current distribution, biodiversity and health of the frogs of the Kruger National Park in relation to physical and chemical factors. Water Research Commission, Pretoria.
Author: Jamme-lee Pretorius