The Handsome Moustache Toad

On January 10, 2015 by Tim Newman

Emei moustache toad 2

The Emei moustache toad, or Taosze spiny toad (Leptobrachium boringii) is found in the Sichuan, Guizhou, and Hunan provinces of China. They only breed in slow-flowing streams surrounded by forest, cultivated fields, and grassland.

The origin of the “moustache” part of their name is pretty obvious, but what is the odd appendage for? Well, as is often the case, the adornment is related to mating.

Only male moustache toads host these keratinized spines on their upper lips. Keratin is a substance widely used in nature and forms the basis of structures, such as horns, nails, claws, and hooves.

The male toads grow these deadly ornaments during the mating season and, for obvious reasons, the female L. boringii absolutely love them. If only human females were so attracted to the humble moustache.

The proud toad’s 10–16 keratinized maxillary nuptial spines also seem to be used in territorial battles between rivals during the mating season. Each moustache toad builds its own aquatic lair, which it vigorously defends against all who dare to approach.

Enei Moustache Toad - pair of males

Despite Emei moustache toads being considered “explosive breeders,” the Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team at IUCN Red List denotes the species as “endangered“. The area that they inhabit only covers around 500 square kilometers and that area is steadily shrinking and fragmenting.

Farming, tourism, logging, and dams all threaten this lovable amphibian.

Also, the moustache toads are over-collected for sale as pets. Who wouldn’t want an Emei moustache toad as a pet?

Emei moustache toad - endangered Emei moustache toad - China Emei moustache toad - above

Animal Collection on LAZERHORSE.ORG

@media all and (max-width: 228px) { div#darkbackground, div.visiblebox { display: none; } }