Black toads in my polytunnel:
Have put my question to Montgomery Wildlife Trust, who were very helpful, but I still have questions.
My query/discussion with them went as follows:
I live about three miles from Llanbrynmair in the countryside. For several years now I have found hiding in my polytunnel a couple of, maybe three, toads which have virtually black skin, all over, which is quite velvety, not warty.
Have looked on websites and haven't found anything particularly relevant.
Can toads have such a very different skin colour? NB these are normal British toad size.
Thank you for contacting the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust with your query regarding black toads.
Your toads are more than likely our Common Toad, Bufo bufo. Common Toads vary enormously in colour and are also able to alter the tone of their skin to suit their surroundings, so it is likely that your toads are very dark in colour to blend in with the colour of the area they are living, in your polytunnel. Changing skin colour has two advantages; firstly, they are less obvious to predators and secondly, darker skin colour allows them to absorb more of the heat from the sun. The latter could also explain why your toads seem to be more velvety in nature, as their skins could be quite dry.
I hope this helps,
Kind regards, Tammy
Tammy, Brilliant, makes sense.
One thing - they are able to alter the tone of their skin etc. .....
What are we talking about here? i.e. time-scale?
-Are we saying that the alteration is "ad hoc", i.e. programmed in but appropriate to the immediate life and surroundings of a particular individual toad...skin changes to suit that situation? Would this be immediate change, starting out normal skin in that toad's lifetime and then adapting? In which case could it change back again in that toad's lifetime should it be expelled from the polytunnel?
-Or might it happen over a couple of generations? i.e. are we talking about a fairly quick evolutionary-type adaptation?
That is a good question and the honest answer is that I am really not sure. I would guess that an individual toad is able to alter it's skin colour to suit it's surroundings at that time. So, should it be expelled from the polytunnel, I would expect it to be able to alter to a different tone. How long this would take, I couldn't guess!
You could try posting your observation on iSpot (http://www.ispot.org.uk/) and asking the question there.
Sorry I can't be more help.
SO, CAN ANYONE GIVE ME MORE INFORMATION?