English Name : Common Asian Toad
Scientific Name : Duttaphrynus melanostitus
Family : Bufonidae
Tamil Name : Sori thavalai
Description : The Common Asian toad is recognized by its medium to large size and the numerous black tipped, horny warts spread all over the body. Its colour is hivgly variable, ranging from plain brick red to almost black. The most common colour pattern is one of pale yellow red brown, markedly boldly with dark brownish streaks and spots. The underside is largely whitish with yellow spots. Adults are large and sometimes reach 15cm in length .Its skin is dry and has numerous warts. Poison glands and the ridges on the head are very prominent. The back is covered with conical warts of all sizes.
Distribution and status: common Asian toads are distributed all over India and the adjacent countries till about Indonesia. It is commonest of Indian Amphibians..
Habitat : The common Indian toad uses any available habitat from sea level to over 2000 m ASL in the hills of peninsular India. It is one of the few amphibian that breed close to the sea level. Despite its commonest to occur near human habitations it is also seen on edge of forests in Western Ghats. It is one of the common amphibians found inside bid cities. It is also common within tea estates
Habits: Its movement is sluggish and slow. It can normally seen catching insects under street lights. Due to its bad taste predators like birds of prey avoid it. Adults are terrestrial and may be found under ground cover such as rocks, leaf-litter, logs, and are also associated with human habitations.. The juveniles of Common Asian toad tend to stay in groups and sometimes feed during the day. The adults are much more solitary and feed during the nights. They also follow the trail of ants and wait in strategic position to feed without being bitten.
Life cycle: The breeding season of Common Asian Toad varies from place to place. However it is coincidental with the monsoon, Asian common toads breed in still and slow-flowing rivers and temporary and permanent ponds and pools. The eggs close to 4000 long string of blackish in colour are strewn all over the pool. The eggs develop into writhing tadpoles 24-48 hrs depending on the temperature of the water. The larvae are found in still and slow-moving water bodies.. Tadpoles grown in sibling groups metamorphosed faster than those that were kept in mixed groups. The time taken by tadpoles to metamorphose into adults in 34 to 52 days.
Role in the environment: Due to its insect eating habits it keeps a check on insect population. Large numbers of adults are dissected in labs year after year in laboratories throughout the country.
Photo source: J. Subramanean