Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I don’t know of any faces that have more character than those of old reptiles and amphibians. This Eastern Toad’s face has that look of wisdom that only age can bring.

He showed up two nights ago and has been singing almost nonstop. Unfortunately, he’s alone in the Water Garden. There were some toads singing in the pond a few weeks ago, but I haven’t heard them recently. As far as I can tell, this is the only toad in the vicinity with breeding on his mind.

He looks very much like an ornament. He wouldn’t sing while I was near with the camera. Other than that, he totally ignored my presence. Maybe his efforts will attract a female that hasn’t already laid her eggs. The number of breeding toads at Blue Jay Barrens has been falling steadily for several years. By next breeding season I’ll have the first of my series of toad pools ready for use. Maybe that will help the population rebound.

Toads don’t get much wartier than this. Toxins produced in the skin and the two large glands just behind the eyes discourage predators from making a meal of the toad. A second line of defense, known to little boys everywhere, is peeing on the assailant. I always feel bad about scaring a toad into peeing, because that water could sustain the toad’s life if forced to endure a drought.

Toads haven’t yet disappeared completely. I still encounter them regularly as I walk. My desire to increase toad numbers is primarily spurred by the need to have a healthy toad population in order to sustain the Hognose Snakes, predators that specialize in toads. The snakes are here and I’d like to do what I can to keep them healthy.

Toads seem to love attention, but it helps when you offer a warm hand on a cool morning. The Eastern Toad can be distinguished from the similar looking Fowler’s Toad by spotting on the ventral surface. Following the photo shoot, the toad snuggled down to get warm. I gave it about 30 seconds and then sent it on its way.


  1. What an impressive portrait! That's what a combination of great photography skills and a wonderful model does!

  2. Great post! I love the toad in the hand.

  3. Thanks, Alexandra. I think the toad was one of those subjects that made it really hard to get a bad picture.

    Thanks, Katie. When I picked up the toad it acted as if it had found the most comfortable place in the world. I don't know how long it would have stayed there if I hadn't sent it on its way.

  4. Toads have alway reminded me of little old judges!! What you do is very interesting to see!!! Love your kindness to warm toady..funny photo. :} :} !!!

  5. Steve, I read your recent comment on Fall to Climb. Very funny. I, too, wanted an ant farm as a kid, but me being a girl got frilly clothes instead. My preferred outfit was a bathing suit and rubber galoshes... perfect for crouching over ant hills to watch the activity under the hot CA sun.

  6. grammie g - I agree. He does look like he could render a fair and impartial decision.

    Katie - By the time I was 12, I was the proud owner of three ant farms. One contained a colony of small ants that could fit through the air holes of the farm. They used to forage in the window and carry dismantled bugs back to the top of my dresser.