If there was an award for most mysterious amphibian, the common spadefoot would definitely win. It lives its entire life in hiding or underground, has a silent call and is unfortunately very rare. The common spadefoot can only be found in two more places in Belgium: in Peer and in Zonhoven. Fortunately, thanks to the species protection programme (or SBP), and its implementation in the field, this toad-like frog is gradually improving.
Did you know: a species protection programme is a five-year programme of species protection measures designed to bring and keep endangered and protected species in good conservation status. Read more about species protection programmes here.
To give the common spadefoot more chances, a breeding and release programme was started in 2020 by the Agency for Nature & Forests and INBO. Then, 18 egg strands from the 2 remaining populations were collected and reared under controlled conditions. As a result, 10,000 larvae were released in the 2 original areas, as well as in 2 new areas. In 2021, 500 juveniles were released and in 2022, some 2,800 individuals were released.
Already with a good result: in 2022, a small common spadefoot was already found during the field release, which means that the common spadefoots are successfully reproducing in the pond areas!
Most of the raised common spadefoots are released, but a small number are further reared into adults. This allows researchers to gather very valuable information on the way of life of these mysterious amphibians, albeit in rearing pond conditions.
In the coming years, the Agency for Nature & Forests will also continue to work on the protection of this species, including breeding and release programmes.
Would you like to know more? Watch a very fascinating video about the common spadefoot here and/or read more about this beautiful amphibian here!