An important biotope for toads, salamanders & co.The “Father Rhine” pools

Heidelberg palace gardens, “Father Rhine”

The “Father Rhine” pools.


Every year in early spring, numerous toads, fire salamanders and Alpine newts set off on a migration.
Their destination: the historic “Father Rhine” pools in Heidelberg palace gardens! Visitors can observe these specially protected amphibians in the pools here as they reproduce, develop and metamorphose:

Tiny tadpoles hatch from egg strings released by the toads (Bufo bufo) in April: by June, these turn into young toads which leave the pools in groups via the ramps. The diminutive creatures then set off in search of a nice spot in the garden or in the neighboring forest to continue their growth before eventually returning as adult toads three to six years later to breed at their own birthplace.
Fire salamanders(Salamandra salamandra) grow in their mother’s womb and are “deposited” live in the pools from March onwards. They can be distinguished from other amphibian larvae by the yellow spots on the upper side of their legs. Their development from gill-bearing larvae to fully metamorphosed terrestrial creatures usually takes between three and six months. During this period they also develop their typical coloring – the unmistakable black and yellow.
Alpine newts(Triturus alpestris) enter the water in nuptial costume for mating purposes. Gill-bearing larvae hatch after a few weeks from eggs that are individually attached to fallen leaves, twigs and algae. The dragon-like larvae can be seen in the pools from June, and they leave the water via the ramps as fully developed young Alpine newts from September. The parent newts often remain in the pools until the water is drained.

A pair of toads
fire salamander

A pair of toads and a fire salamander.

Did you notice?

For decades now, a lot has been done to support amphibians at the Heidelberg palace gardens. Entry and exit ramps have been installed at the pools, which are actively used by both adults and juveniles. Algae and fallen leaves are essential structures for these animals in the water, providing fundamental nutrition and places to hide. They are an indicator of an ecologically intact reproductive aqueous habitat, thereby reflecting the near-natural state in which the Heidelberg palace gardens are maintained.

Did you know?

Amphibians and their young are protected by law: they must not be disturbed, killed or removed from their environment. The animals can be observed from the edge of the pool.

Please use the paved paths throughout the palace gardens.
Dogs must be kept on a leash.

Further information on nature conservation is available at the Heidelberg Palace visitor center.