While grabbing a late-night dinner in Dundas town last night, I heard a chorus of shrill, nasal bleats emanating from behind the building. I recognized the call right away as the mating call of the Eastern narrow-mouthed toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis). The Eastern narrow-mouth toad is native to the Southeastern United States and while it has been recorded from New Providence, and Grand Bahama, this is the first observation of them (as far as I can tell) from Abaco (see here for a list of species).
The narrow-mouthed toad is not actually a toad, but a strange and wonderfully diverse group of frogs – Microhylidae. These frogs are found throughout the warmer portions of Africa, South America, Australia and Asia. This group includes some exceptionally beautiful species (for example) as well the world’s smallest vertebrate (Link). They also have some interesting relationships with other species. For example, many species have close (not metaphorically) symbioses with tarantulas in which they share burrows – presumably to their mutual benefit, but that is still simply a hypothesis.
Eastern narrow-mouthed toads are small frogs, only about 2.5 cm long. And as their name suggests, they have small mouths at the end of their pointed faces. They can be quite variable in coloration ranging from gray to reddish, but they typically display two lateral stripes along the sides of their back. Their habitat is also quite variable, but they need fresh water to breed (puddles or shallow ponds will do) and can be found hiding underneath logs and rocks near these ponds. Their diet consists of tiny invertebrates like ants and termites, but as tadpoles they filter small particles from the water.
Anyways, the Eastern narrow-mouth chorus I heard was fairly large (at least a few dozen) suggesting that this population is fairly well established here in Marsh Harbour. Over the next month or so I will be keeping an eye and ear out for more choruses. I would really like to find a specimen since I was only able to identify them based on their call – which is quite distinct and sounds like a bleating lamb with a stuffy nose (Listen here). If you hear this call, which is distinct from the Cuban Treefrog’s call (Listen here) please let me know as I would love to get more information about where they are on the island.
Hopefully, I’ll have an update soon.