The New International Encyclopædia/Midwife Frog
MIDWIFE FROG, or Obstetrical Toad. A smooth toad-like terrestrial frog (Alytes obstetricans) of the family Discoglossidæ, found along the Mediterranean coast, and numerous and ubiquitous. From March to August the double call-note of the male,, sounding like a small bell, is heard, but it is difficult to see the performer. The remarkable feature of this frog's life, however, is its egg-nurture. When the female is ready to extrude her eggs, which are of large size and attached to one another, in two rosary-like strings, to the number of several dozen, the accepted male mounts upon her back. During the expulsion of the eggs they are fecundated by the male, who then pushes his hind limbs through the tangled mass, after which he releases the female, and retires to his hole dragging with him the burden wrapped about his legs. He comes out each night to feed and to moisten the eggs in the dew or the nearest puddle, and after about three weeks, when the eggs are nearly ready to hatch, he takes them into the water, where he remains until the tadpoles escape through the softened envelopes. Broods born in early summer mature the same autumn, but later broods remain as tadpoles until the following May. A second species (Alytes cisternasi), of similar habits, occurs in Central Spain and Portugal.