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a family of tailless amphibians of the suborder Anomocoela. Outwardly, the Pelobatidae resemble toads or frogs. The body length reaches 10 cm. The family comprises nine genera, encompassing about 50 species. Pelobatids are distributed in Europe, northwestern Africa, and western and southeast Asia, including the Philippines and Indonesia, and on the Seychelle Islands and in North and Central America. The USSR has representatives of two genera: Pelobates (European spadefoots) and Pelodytes (seePELODYTES).
Members of the genus Pelobates have a large spade-shaped tubercule on the hind foot; the web on the feet is well developed. The genus includes four species, which are distributed in southern and central Europe, northwestern Africa, and western Asia. The USSR has two species— Pelobates fuscus and Pelobates syriacus—which are found in Armenia and Azerbaijan. P. fuscus measures up to 6.5 cm in length. It is distributed in the USSR from the western borders to the central regions of the Kazakh SSR in the east and Ciscaucasia in the south. It inhabits steppes, meadows, and the margins of pine forests, preferring light soils. A nocturnal animal, it burrows in the earth during the day or hides in the burrows of other animals. It emits a faint garlic odor, mainly in the spring. It feeds on insects, spiders, worms, and mollusks. It enters the water only during the egg-laying season. The eggs are arranged in several rows in a jelly-like string up to 50 cm long. The tadpoles often winter over and attain a length of up to 17.5 cm.
REFERENCEZhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 4, part 2. Moscow, 1969.
I. S. DAREVSKII