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A mysterious, but very real small toad

Pelobates fuscus insubricus, an endemic subspecies of Northern Italy, is similar to a small toad and its characteristic is the vertical elliptical pupil. It was quite common in the past, but today it is rare and has disappeared from most of the Po Valley. His presence in the lowland woods is yet to be confirmed.

Thanks to numerous natural springs, the Muzzana woods host a variety of amphibian species. Green frogs living in stagnant ponds are the most common amphibians. Other common species are the pool frog (Pelophylax lessonae) and the edible frog (Pelophylax kl. esculentus). Ponds also host two newt species: the smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris v. meridionalis) and the Italian crested newt (Triturus carnifex). The latter is listed in the EU Habitat Directive and among the species of community interest. The Italian tree frog (Hyla intermedia) thrives along the external borders of the woods and its shrubs. It is an endemic Italian species that distinguishes itself by its ability to climb up trees and shrubs thanks to adhesive fingertips.

The Muzzana Woods also host the common toad (Bufo bufo) and two types of red frogs – the agile frog (Rana dalmatina) and the Italian agile frog (Rana latastei).

In recent years, the shrinking and fragmentation of wet areas in the region has affected some among the endemic species. Among them, the frogs Rana dalmatina and Rana latastei. The latter is present also in North-Eastern Istria. This species has been listed in the Habitat Directive as a species  of Community interest and in the Italian Red List of the species at risk of extinction. Another endangered species is the yellow-bellied toads (Bombina variegata), which lays eggs in the ponds which form after rainfalls. These  temporary ponds are micro-habitats whose temperature allows the development of eggs and tadpoles. The yellow-bellied toads has a peculiar anti-predator behaviour: if in danger, it shows its yellow and black belly – in the animal color code, a clear warning signal.  

The common spadefoot (Pelobates fuscus insubricus) is an endemic subspecies in  Northern Italy. It is  about 5/6 cm long and similar to a little toad with the distinguishing vertical elliptical pupils. It used to be common in the past, but today it is considered almost extinct in the region for the reduction and fragmentation of wetlands. Its presence in the lowland woods is still to be confirmed. It is listed in the Habitat Directive as a species of community interest.

All amphibian species in Friuli Venezia Giulia are protected by the Regional Law 9/2007 and subsequent regulations. Exotic and or non-native species are not included in current  conservation laws.

For a comprehensive overview of the species, please visit our checklist.