Venezuela pebble toads have a very unusual defence mechanism, shared with only a few close relatives. They roll themselves up into a ball and bounce down the hill, away from danger. These tiny amphibians weigh so little that if they hold their muscles rigid, the bouncing doesn't damage them at all. Pebble toads also breed communally, so a single nest can contain over 100 toads. One nest found had 103 toads and 321 eggs in it.
Scientific name: Oreophrynella nigra
Tiny pebble toads have a unique defensive strategy against tarantulas.
In super slow motion, the amazing pebble toad tumbles down a cliff face to escape a toad-eating tarantula. It is so small and weighs so little that it doesn't even hurt itself as it bounces off the rocks. Now that's rock'n'roll!
Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The following habitats are found across the Venezuela pebble toad distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Population trend: Stable
Year assessed: 2004
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
Oreophrynella nigra, or Pebble Toad, is a species of toad in the Bufonidae family. It is found in Venezuela and possibly Guyana. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montane regions and swamps.
When threatened, the toad folds its limbs under its body, tucks its head in and tenses in a ball shape. If on an incline, this causes it to roll down the slope, escaping the attention of its predator, and looking like a tumbling pebble. Its cryptic coloring blends with its sandstone habitat. This toad was featured on the BBC series, Life, pursued by a tarantula.
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