Did You Know? 19 Incredible Kihansi Spray Toad Facts


The Kihansi spray toad (Nectophrynoides asperginis) is a species of toad whose only occurrence in the world is in the Kihansi Gorge in Tanzania. It is a member of the Bufonidae family. The species was endemic to the Kihansi waterfall but the construction of a dam drove the species to near extinction. Some zoos like the Bronx Zoo and the Toledo Zoo in the U.S. have maintained captive breeding programs for the toad and reintroduction of the frogs to Kihansi Gorge took place some years ago. There are still dangers that exist in Tanzania but efforts are being made to maximize the conservation of the spray toads. The population is still decreasing and scientists are trying to figure out the way to save these wild Kihansi spray toads from becoming permanently extinct.

If you liked this article, you can further check out the harlequin toad and the common toad.

Kihansi Spray Toad Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Kihansi spray toad?

The Kihansi spray toad is a species of frog that belongs to the Bufonidae family.

What class of animal does a Kihansi spray toad belong to?

Similar to all other amphibian species, the Kihansi spray toad is also a member of the Amphibia class and part of the Animalia kingdom.

How many Kihansi spray toads are there in the world?

More than 20,000 toads lived in 1999 but when the Kihansi Dam was constructed, the habitat of these animals got destroyed as the water spray reduced. At present, the Kihansi spray toad is found only in captive breeding in Toledo Zoo and Bronx Zoo while the last recorded sighting of the frog in the wild was in 2004. Other factors which led to the decline in the population were chytrid fungus and pesticides.

Where does a Kihansi spray toad live?

The toads used to live in the Kihansi Falls that is located in the Kihansi Gorge. The area falls inside the Udzungwa Mountains and a part of eastern Tanzania. The species was found in a mist zone inside the Kihansi falls. The toads were bred in captivity at the Bronx Zoo in New York City and Toledo Zoo in Toledo. Captive breeding also took place at the University of Dar es Salaam. In 2012, a number of these toads were reintroduced in the Kihansi Gorge came from captivity.

What is a Kihansi spray toad's habitat?

The habitat of the Tanzanian toads occurred in wetland spray meadows with mist zones that were the result of mountain falls. The mist produced a high relative humidity along with lower temperatures around the gorge. This created a unique wetland habitat for the frogs. At present, an artificial sprinkler system is in place in the gorge to mimic the spray zone.

Who do Kihansi spray toads live with?

Not much information is available about Kihansi spray toad behavior to determine whether the animals live alone or in groups.

How long does a Kihansi spray toad live?

The longevity of the toads in the wild is still being determined by scientists while in captivity, the species has been recorded to live for as long as five years.

How do they reproduce?

The Kihansi spray toad is an ovoviviparous species as well as a direct developer. It means that the tadpoles are not born as larvae. Fertilization takes place internally and the female retains the larvae inside her. The developing toadlets can be noticed in the toad’s belly due to the translucent abdomen skin. Juvenile toadlets are born from the cloaca in females. About 5-13 toadlets are born at a time. The males produce pheromones from interfemoral gland patches.

What is their conservation status?

As per the reports of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Kihansi spray toad is listed as Extinct in the wild with an unspecified population trend. The cause for the extinction is due to the building of a hydroelectric dam on a river. The chytrid fungus also contributed to the extinction of the toads in the wild. After successful captive breeding took place in Bronx Zoo, Toledo Zoo, and University of Dar es Salaam, reintroduction of some populations took place back to their natural habitat of the Kihansi Gorge.

Kihansi Spray Toad Fun Facts 

What do Kihansi spray toads look like?

Kihansi spray toad reintroduction took place in Tanzania after it became extinct in the wild.

The Kihansi spray toads (Nectophrynoides asperginis), found in Kihansi Gorge in Tanzania are tiny creatures with yellow-colored skin. Yellow and brown spots cover the dorsal surface. There are dark lateral bands present with lighter striping. If you see ventrally, the toad’s skin is translucent white near the posterior and throat and you can see the intestines and liver through the skin. Pregnant females have bluish-green skin due to the larvae present inside. As it stays in the spray zone of Kihansi waterfalls, the frog has flaps present over the nostrils for adapting to the environment. The toes in the feet are partially webbed and external tympana is absent in them. The males have darker pores dorsally, especially around the shoulders and head. In captivity, the males develop patches of dark color in the interfemoral glands. The external ear is lacking in the animal but they have anuran inner ears.

How cute are they?

Many people would not find the toads to be cute but the yellow color definitely adds some degree of cuteness to the frogs.

How do they communicate?

The Kihansi spray toad’s calls are simple and soft. The calls consist of short notes at a frequency of ∼4.1 kHz. The male toads call when they notice another toad. Scientists have determined that the toads communicate via high ambient noise that is produced by the sound of the waterfalls. They specialize in short-range communications.

How big is a Kihansi spray toad?

The Kihansi spray toad is a sexually dimorphic species where the females are larger than the males. While the average length of male toads is 0.75 in (1.9 cm), the female is 1.1 in (2.9 cm) long. The spadefoot toad is twice the size of the Kihansi spray toad.

How fast can a Kihansi spray toad move?

Unfortunately, scientists have not collected enough data to determine the speed of the species.

How much does a Kihansi spray toad weigh?

The Kihansi spray toad is a very tiny species weighing only 0.01 oz (0.3 g). If you compare it with the American toad, the latter is much heavier with its average weight being 0.8 oz (21.7 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct names for the male and female Kihansi spray toads.

What would you call a baby Kihansi spray toad?

Baby toads are usually called tadpoles but the Tanzanian Kihansi spray toad gives birth to fully formed juvenile toadlets.

What do they eat?

The Kihansi spray toad is an insectivore. It feeds on dipterid larvae. The diet also consists of acarine mites and springtails. It eats small insects like flies and fly larvae.

Are they poisonous?

No, this is not a poisonous species.

Would they make a good pet?

The toads are best suited for a life in the wild natural habitat but they faced extinction in the wild. Populations of the species were born in captive breeding in zoos where the environment can be controlled to suit them.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

Since the wild Kihansi spray toad is suited to live near waterfalls, it has adapted the body according to the surroundings. The water from the falls is integral to its survival and hence it cannot remain in a dry environment.

Zoos of the world like the Bronx Zoo in New York have developed a mist zone similar to the Kihansi Gorge in Tanzania to foster the growth of the toad's population.

Why are Kihansi spray toads endangered?

A hydroelectric dam on the Kihansi River led to the extinction of the Kihansi spray toads in the wild back in 2000. The dam reduced the flow of water to the gorge by a large amount thereby the spray zone became empty. The vegetation of the area changed which constituted the habitat of the toads. A sprinkler system that could mimic the natural spray was not yet functional when the dam was opened. The toads were further affected by the chytrid fungus along with pesticides which came from the brief opening of the Kihansi Dam.

Why did the Kihansi spray toad struggle in captivity?

Captive breeding of the Kihansi spray toad took place after the rapid decline in the populations. The University of Dar es Salaam, along with some zoos in the United States, bred the toads in captivity. The captive populations of the Tanzanian amphibian faced problems arising from nutritional deficiencies and infections. These problems have been resolved now and reintroduction of the species in their natural habitat in the gorge took place in 2012.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other amphibians from our leopard frog facts and red-eyed tree frog facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Kihansi spray toads coloring pages.

Main image by Ruby.

Second image by Ruby.

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