Sclerophrys (Bufo) gutturalis
Many South Africans in the northern and eastern parts of the country will be well familiar with the deep croaking of the Guttural Toad piping up in their gardens around sunset during spring and summer. They’ve also been introduced unintentionally to parts of the Western Cape. Naturally these very adaptable amphibians are found in the vicinity of permanent or ephemeral bodies of water in grassland and savanna habitats, feeding on a wide range of invertebrates and smaller reptiles and frogs. Apart from South Africa, the Guttural Toad is also widely distributed over eastern and central Africa.
During the cool, dry winter months in their South African distribution range, Guttural Toads remain dormant under rocks, in holes and burrows, even gutters and drain pipes. Their breeding season commences as soon as temperatures start increasing in August where permanent water is available or as soon as the first spring rains arrive otherwise. Females may produce as many as 25,000 eggs (for a photograph of the eggs, please do visit this terrific recent post on the fabulous blog “Letting Nature Back In“). The tadpoles grow quickly and complete their metamorphosis within 6 weeks. Their thickset bodies grow to 12cm in length, with females being the bigger sex.
The IUCN considers the conservation status of the Guttural Toad to be of least concern. Sadly many are killed crossing roads at night. Where their ranges overlap the Guttural Toad is known to hibridise with the closely related and similar-looking Raucous Toad.