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Systematic classification and distribution
Species: R. latastei
The Lataste frog is a red frog endemic to the Po-Veneto plain, from western Piedmont to western Slovenia and north-western Istria. It is a species that lives at very low altitudes and is rarely found above 300 meters in height. The typical and probably original environment of the Rana di Lataste is the boscoplanitarium with a prevalence of English oak and hornbeam, black alder and oxyphilus ash, with developed soil, rich undergrowth of the outcrop and high humidity level at the substrate.
The background color of the back varies between different shades of brown and beige, although sometimes grayish animals are found and especially the females are often reddish; small dark patches are often present. The lower part of the body is whitish, covered on the throat and on the front portion of the abdomen by a dense and marbled dark speck, which leaves visible two light stripes: longitudinal moon on the throat and the other transversal on the chest.
The length is 6 cm, although exceptionally some females can reach 7 cm.
As soon as the short period of winter latency ends, which passes within cavities of the soil (often burrows of voles), which runs from November to February, but often interrupted early in January, the Lataste's Frog heads into the water to reproduce. Eggs are laid between mid-February and mid-April, although favorable weather conditions can lead to advances. Mating can also take place out of the water and as with most other frogs, the male attracts the female with vocalizations before mating. The eggs are laid in gelatinous clusters, different from those of an agile frog due to their small size: they can contain from 90 to 900 units even if on average there are usually 300-400 units that are fertilized externally by the males.
They breed in shallow water. During the development process, which lasts two to four weeks, the eggs rise to the surface. The hatching takes place in two to three weeks, in relation to the water temperature and the tadpoles completely metamorphose in two, three months and emerge from the water at the end of June, showing a strong preference for the shaded areas of the body of water. They live for two or three years. It emits short duration sounds, separated by variable silences but lasting for several seconds.
After the depositions, the adults abandon the ponds to disperse in the immediate vicinity, where they conduct terrestrial life for the rest of the year and concentrating the activity in the twilight, night and morning hours. In any case, their behavior is influenced by climatic conditions and in periods of drought adults remain close to the water and become active in the last hours of the day.
It feeds essentially on insects but also on other small invertebrates.
In October they enter hibernation, into the earth, sometimes up to a kilometer away from the water.
Adults are hunted by snakes and birds that habitually frequent wetlands, by predatory fish and some mammals. (Other information)
Lataste frog - Latastei frog
Lataste frog - Latastei frog (photo Franco Andreone)