English name: Common Indian Toad (aka “Black-spined Toad”)
Scientific name: Duttaphrynus melanostictus (formerly known as Bufo melanostictus)
Thai name: Kang-kok ban, Khi kang-kak
Description: Up to 15cm long. This large frog is the only toad species found in Bangkok. Heavy body appears obese and is covered with the characteristic “warts” of a toad. Black marks on the end of these “warts” give the toad the alternative name “Black-spined Toad”. Color can vary from gray to brown to yellow, sometimes with reddish markings. Head has very large parotid glands behind the eyes and distinct black ridges connecting the eyes to the nose and glands. Legs are relatively short and feet are only half-webbed. Underside is white, sometimes with dark blotching.
Tadpoles grow to 2.7cm. They are black and have small oval-shaped bodies.
Call: A low trill that has been described as “curr curr curr”.
Similar Species: In Bangkok, only the Common Indian Toad has its distinct head ridges, parotid glands, and skin “warts”
Chinese Edible Frog, the only species that rivals the Common Indian Toad for size, has longer legs, a longer, narrower head, raised ridges on the skin rather than warts, and lacks the head ridges and parotid glands.
Habitat: Typically found in disturbed areas, such as forest clearings and edges, river banks, rice paddies, parks, empty lots, and backyards. Will often be seen walking down Bangkok streets in the rain, even entering homes. Occasionally found in deeper forest. Breeds in standing water such as slow-moving rivers, ponds, ditches, and rain puddles.
Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control insect, earthworm, spider, and scorpion populations. Provides food for large birds, snakes, and monitors.
Danger to humans: Poison in its glands may lead to an ill feeling in humans if ingested.
Conservation status and threats: The Common Indian Toad is listed as a species of “least concern”, due to its high populations, broad range, and ability to utilize many human-disturbed habitats. It is possible that scientists will split this species up into several distinct species with smaller ranges in the future. The Common Indian Toad has been introduced to New Guinea and other islands, where it may pose an ecological threat.
Interesting facts: The huge parotid glands of a toad contain poison that is used to deter predators. The poison is released when the toad is harassed or bitten, and can be dangerous to small dogs who attempt to capture a toad. While it is only harmful if ingested and has a minor effect on humans, it is recommended that you wash your hands after handling any toad.
The IUCN Red List: Duttaphrynus melanostictus
Wildlife of Pakistan: Bufo melanostictus
Ecology Asia: Asian Toad
Wikipedia: Duttaphrynus melanostictus
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
Hong Kong Amphibians and Reptiles (2nd Edition)
Amphibian Fauna of Sri Lanka