Friday, March 04, 2005

Amphibians in Iraq

Iraq has only 7 species of amphibian, of these I only saw 1, the Green Toad. In late March in Balad I started hearing the toads calling in the ditches, which at the time still had some water. About a month later I found one under a piece of cardboard in some wet mud. In April and again in May I found individual toads hopping around our building at night after it rained. The toads must aestivate during the summer, burrowing down into the soil to survive the heat.

My home state of Connecticut has 22 native species of amphibians. Iraq is relatively poor in species because of the arid nature of much of the country. All the frogs and toads are widespread species but two newt species, especially the Kurdistan Newt have very restricted ranges.

In addition to the Green Toad, Iraq is also home to 3 other species of frogs. One of the frogs is the very handsome looking Mediterranean Tree Frog (Hyla Savignyi), It looks a bit like our Pine Barrens Tree Frog. Two other standard type frogs are the Marsh Frog (Rana ridibunda) and the Edible Frog (Rana esculenta).

In the north of Iraq three species of Newts are found. Two in the Yellow-spotted Newt complex (Neurergus)The Azerbaijan Newt (N. crocatus) and the Kurdistan Newt (N. microspilotus). If you look at the link for the Kurdistan Newt, its amazing how similar the color is to our Spotted Salamander.

The last amphibian species listed for Iraq is the Banded Newt (Triturus vittatus). This last species may occur in N. Iraq near the Turkish border but I haven't found any definitive documentation. It is found in Syria, Turkey and Iran as well as further afield.

Frogs and Toads
Green Toad
Mediterranean Tree Frog
Marsh Frog
Edible Frog

Azerbaijan Newt
Kurdistan Newt
?Banded Newt

Green Toad captured April 2004, LSA Anaconda, near Balad, Iraq


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