Why do male harlequin toads sit on the necks of their chosen ones for six months
Categories: AnimalsBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/why-do-male-harlequin-toads-sit-on-the-necks-of-their-chosen-ones-for-six-months
Men who "sit on the neck" of their second halves are not worthy of respect. But that's not the case in the animal world. Male harlequin toads belonging to the genus atelope, although they sit on the neck of females in the literal sense of the word, do not deserve condemnation. If they had behaved differently, perhaps these exotic amphibians would have been long gone.
Atelopes, which are nicknamed harlequin toads for their bright color, live in Central and South America. Their distribution area is very large and covers Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia. But if you see these toads in nature, you can consider yourself lucky. 60 species of atelopes are endangered, and one species, the spotted harlequin, may no longer exist.
Harlequin toads inhabit moist mountain forests. Sometimes zoologists meet them at an altitude of up to 4500 meters! These are bright, but very modest amphibians who prefer to lead a secretive lifestyle. Even their croaking is different from the lilting trills of other tropical toads. Atelopes emit a quiet chirping, which only their relatives can distinguish in the noise of the jungle.
Several species of these toads are deadly — the glands of their skin secrete a strong poison tetrodotoxin, the same as the famous puffer fish. But neither modesty nor venom could protect the atelopes. Deforestation of mountain forests by humans causes an increase in humidity, which is detrimental to harlequins.
It has come to the point that a male toad can spend his life alone without ever meeting a mate. A critical decrease in numbers would be disastrous for toads who are not inclined to long-distance hikes. But nature has taken care of their reproduction in a strange way.
A male harlequin toad, having met a female, does not rely on his charms. He just jumps on the lady's back and hugs her tightly with his paws. From that moment on, he and she are inseparable — the female meekly carries the groom. And he is waiting for the onset of a favorable moment for mating. Here, as luck would have it, and sometimes you can expect a female to be ready for six months.
It's interesting, but a lady with a gentleman around her neck behaves at ease, as if nothing had happened. But the hero-lover is not to be envied. The male does not have the opportunity to hunt and is fed by random midges and beetles, which themselves go into his mouth. During a love adventure, a harlequin can lose up to a third of his body weight. There are even cases when a male starved to death.
And all this in order to fertilize 300-900 tiny eggs, which the female will sooner or later lay in a shallow puddle. Of these, babies will appear, the overwhelming number of which will die in the first day. Only a few will live to adulthood and they, like their parents, will have to hope for a happy meeting and strong hugs.
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