Natterjack toads are having a wedding on the restored areas with the help of RMK 19.05

In places where RMK has restored and maintained habitats suitable for toads or cartilage, the mating song of the males is heard and the females have left their weaving lines in the water.

Although this spring has been cold, the natterjack toads have begun to breed. A state census counted 90 singing male natterjacks toads in Veskijärve, Lääne County; 26 in Võidküla, Pärnu County; 12 in Lavasaare, Pärnu County; 10 in Kuumi, Saare County and 5 on Harilaid.

The first census of spawn strings, which is conducted two to three times in each natterjack toad’s habitat or monitoring area, have already brought good results in some places. “We have already counted 77 spawn strings in Veskijärve, 14 in Võiduküla, 10 in Lavassaare and 4 in Kuumi,” the amphibians’ researcher and the National Monitoring Officer Riinu Rannap notes. One swamp string means one breeding female animal.

There are definitely more natterjack toads coming because the breeding season of natterjack toads is very long in comparison with other amphibians. It usually begins in the end of April and can last until Midsummer’s Day and new spawn strings might be added during this period.

In Harilaid however, six string swamps have been counted. Rannap has not seen that many string swamps there since 2006, when they first started monitoring the natterjack toads. Until now, the most has been three. “This shows that the expansion of the open area or the eradication of the pine plantation has attracted more female animals to breed than before,” Rannap explains.

The largest habitats of natterjack toads are in Veskijärve, Lääne County and Harilaid, Saare County. Since the natterjack toads cannot live in high vegetation, e.g., areas covered by reed or afforested areas, and they need a sunny habitat, the excessive vegetation must be removed from the suitable habitat of the natterjack toads, suitable temporary small bodies of water (landscape depressions) need to be restored and cleaned and stand for keeping the areas in a condition that is suitable for the frogs.

In Veskijärve, the habitat’s restoration work commenced after the fire of 2008, which changed the landscape treeless and it turned out that this environment is very suitable for natterjack toads. RMK’s Nature Protection Specialist Ants Animägi says that work is completed in multiple steps. At Lake Veskijärvi, we have cleaned up puddles, cleared the fire, uprooted the stumps, sanded the dunes and shaped the ditches between the dunes into suitable breeding waters, ”Animägi described.

A total of 80 hectares of shrivelled pine forest, established in the middle of the last century, was taken down and breeding bodies of water were established. Animägi notes that the population of Harilaid was numerous prior to the afforestation but abruptly vanished. But now there is hope that the number of natterjack toads will increase once again.

“The population of natterjack toads has moved away from the downward trend in many habitats and are moving upwards thanks to RMK’s restoring and expanding on the open areas as well as cleaning and restoring tens of small bodies of water,” Riinu Rannap notes. “The inclusive restoring of natterjack toads’ habitats on large areas has proved especially successful.”

Last year, RMK completed restoration and maintenance work in the habitat of natterjack toads on Kumari island in Lääne County, on Kuumi in Saare County, in Võidküla and Lavasaare in Pärnu County. This year, the work is continuing on Kumari island, Harilaid and Võiduküla.

The number of natterjack toads has increased after the restoration of their habitat. Photo: Riinu Rannap

Further information:
Ants Animägi
Nature Conservation Advisor at RMK’s Nature Management Department
Phone: 511 6458