Humans aren’t the only ones that invest in their love life! You may know cane toads because they are globally invasive species, but in their native range cane toads display a range of interesting behaviors, including costly mating rituals. A behavior common to many animals that fertilize eggs externally is called amplexus. In amplexus, animals position their reproductive organs to line up so that the sperm can reach the unfertilized eggs. When cane toads engage in amplexus, the male lies on top of the larger female, reducing both toads’ ability to move and feed. The female deposits 8,000-35,000 eggs into an aquatic environment while the male is fertilizing those eggs. While female cane toads have been observed feeding during amplexus, males have never been observed feeding.
Christian D’Orgeix and colleagues observed the male and female cane toad pictured in amplexus for more than fourteen days in Paramaribo, Suriname! They spotted and identified the amplexed pair ten times between 11 June and 24 June 2014. The cane toads were spotted under a bird feeder outside of D’Orgeix’s dining area. The male was never observed feeding during the amplexus, and his stomach appeared to cave into itself. This is the longest episode of amplexus recorded for cane toads in their native range, and confirms once again that males do not eat during amplexus. Although cane toads may be known for their propensity to invade new continents and ranges (think: Australia), we still have a lot more to learn!
Citation: D’Orgeix, C.A., V. B. Kllmkowski, and R. van de Poel-Versloot. 2015. Reproductive Activity. Herpetological Review 46 (3): 419.