Male WLT calling to attract a female to the breeding pond. The male toad creates a deep snore that pulses for a second and is repeated every three seconds. They call during spring time (August) from hidden positions along the bank or floating vegetation. This attracts the females, which join them in the water.
Amplexus pair laying strings of eggs. Amplexus mostly happens in water, but sometimes it happens on land. The female then has to carry the male until they reach the water. This is probably why the female is bigger than the male! Amplexus is when the male toad climbs onto the female's back and grasps her with his rough front thumbs known as nuptial pads. This ensures that he will be in position to fertilize her eggs when she spawns. While she lays her eggs in the water, he fertilizes them with a fluid containing sperm. Fertilization is external. Once the female has laid all of her eggs, she leaves the breeding pond and walks back to her home in your garden. The males will stay at the breeding pond or move to another breeding pond nearby until there are sure to be no more females to fertilize!
Strings of eggs attached to vegetation at the pond's edge. The female lays more than one thousand eggs in long, gelatinous strings in the water. The jelly has an aweful taste, which protects the eggs against indigenous predators until they are ready to hatch. Only a very small number of toads survive to adulthood. Throughout their 3 year journey to adulthood they fall prey to predators such as indigenous fish, birds, snakes, other toads, dragonfly nymphs and water mongooses which feeds a whole ecosystem of indigenous biodiversity. Exotic predators such as Carp fish can eat 2000 eggs in one day. Exotic birds such as white quacker ducks can eat one season's worth of tadpoles and toadlets emerging from the breeding pond leaving no toadlets to survive the annual season. These exotic animals will breakdown the indiginous food chain that feeds the biodiversity in the area forcing the indignenous wildlife to either die off or move elsewhere. Over a period of unsuccessful seasons Leopard Toads will no longer survive to return to the pond aiding in the extinction of the species.
Tadpoles hatch from the eggs. Two weeks after the eggs have been laid, thousands of small tadpoles hatch and feed on the algae on the water plants. Tadpoles are born with gills, just like a fish so that they can breathe under water. They have a big head and a long tail. The tadpole will go through a process called metamorphoses where it develops its back legs, then front legs and looses its tail.
1cm toadlets emerge from the breeding ponds explosively triggered by rain! When the tadpole is about 3 1/2 months old its lungs have developed and it has now gone through it's metamorphosis to become a toadlet. It now starts its life as a terrestrial creature in search of little bugs such as ants and worms. Toadlets can dry out easily so they try to stay in cool damp areas with lots of insects e.g. under thick vynbos or long grass and weeds. In residential areas, alternative habitats to vynbos are damp areas such as a compost heap or a vegetable patch. Toads don't drink water, they absorb water through their skin.
Juvenile toads live in your garden acting as a pesticide! For the first three months after leaving the breeding ponds, the juvenile toad lives in the leaf litter and eats little worms, crickets, snails and other bugs in your garden, they grow rapidly from 1cm to 3.5cm more than tripling their size in three months. They forage day and night, this is called diurnal. By the third month, the juvenile toads have learnt how to make a burrow. As their growth slows down, they live underground during the day and forage at night, this is called nocturnal.
The adult toad The adolescent toad will live in the vynbos or in your garden forageing on insects for at least 3 years before becoming an adult. It will then go back to the breeding ponds to find a mate and pass on it's genes to the next generation of Leopard Toads!