(ORDO NEWS) — During the study of the nests of dormice and bats, scientists found many common toads in the forests of Great Britain.
These amphibians, considered exclusively terrestrial, hid in hollows at a height of one and a half to three meters on the ground. It remains a mystery why the toads climbed trees, however, apparently, this is their characteristic behavior.
Scientists from the University of Cambridge (Great Britain) investigated the nesting of dormouse and bats, when they unexpectedly found more than 50 common toads ( Bufo bufo ) in nests and hollows of trees, at a height of at least one and a half meters.
The highest height to which the toad climbed was three meters, but the researchers believe that they can climb even higher.
An article published in the journal PLOS One was the first large-scale study of toads’ ability to climb trees. The results of the work are extremely important for understanding the lifestyle and conservation of common toads.
It is one of the most widespread and numerous species of European amphibians, but according to a 2016 study, the number of common toads in the UK has declined by an average of 68% over the past 30 years.
Until now, it was believed that common toads live exclusively on land. As a rule, they prefer forest areas, and spend breeding periods in water bodies. To date, only a few cases of toads in trees have been recorded.
Many of the hollows and crevices in which the toads were found were so small that they could not be seen from the ground. Therefore, it remains a mystery how the toads found them and how difficult it was for them to climb a tree.
These amphibians have never been in hollows with other species, but often found themselves in old nests of dormouse and even birds. Scientists believe that in such an unusual environment, amphibians were driven by the search for food or attempts to avoid encountering predators and parasites.
Fifty cases is a small number, but it is comparable to the number of observations of other animals that regularly use trees. This suggests that toads spend much more time there than was thought.
It is possible that the common toad can be found on every 100 trees in the UK, especially near large ponds and lakes. The discovery also suggests that hollows may represent a more important part of the biotope than conservationists thought.
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