The ferreret, as it is known locally, is an amphibian
which is unique to Mallorca. Inhabitant of the Serra de Tramuntana, the mountain
range, for at least 5 million years, it was believed extinct until 1980.
The Ministry of the Environment operates ses Figueroles, a country property
covering almost 100 hectares in the Selva area, as a reserve for the amphibian.
It is an ideal habitat as it cannot be reached by car and there is a torrent
which is normally full of water - a vital necessity for the toads. As long as
there is sufficient water, it could provide a home for up to 500 pairs. The
surrounding rocks are karstic with holes which provide safe hiding places for
the toads. In addition, there are no water snakes or weasels, their chief predators.
Adult toads are very difficult to spot, although experts estimate that there are some
700 to 1,400 reproducing pairs. They feed on small insects, worms and other small
insects that live under stones or in the cracks in the rocks. And, in the last census,
it was estimated that there were some 17,00 tadpoles although, of course, only a few
dozen will actually survive. One of the many peculiarities of this toad is that
it is extremely resistant to cold. It seems surprising that Mallorca, with its
reputation for sun-bathed beaches, is the home of the European amphibian which is
most able to resist the lowest of temperatures. This is probably because the
waters where it lives receive little of this famous sun!