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Toads

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Toads

         

          Toads are shy, usually nocturnal animals, hiding during the day in dark, damp places and hopping about at night in search of insects, grubs, slugs, worms, and other invertebrates. They are often brownish or grayish in color and have warty skin; a flat head; swollen parotid glands on the side of the neck behind the eyes; bright, jewel-like eyes with a transverse pupil; and slightly webbed toes. They are often stouter than frogs and cannot leap as far. The tongue of the toad is attached to the front of its mouth. The tongue is flicked forward from the mouth, and the sticky tip grasps the prey and carries it back to the mouth. Unlike most frogs, most toads do not have teeth. The tongue produces quantities of mucus to help in swallowing. All anurans blink when they swallow; and, because no bone exists between the eye and the mouth, the eye is pushed against the roof of the mouth, forcing the food further back. 

A Toad’s Life  

           

            Toads are mostly nocturnal, resting during the day in burrows, in trees, or under leaves, undected unless they leap out from under your feet. Toads will also hibernate in burrows. In spring they mate, and the females lay their eggs in the water in gelatinous strings that are 4 ft. or more in length. These strands are usually double strands, where frog eggs are laid in clumps. There are some toads that are the only types of anurans to bear live young! Toads tend to lay many eggs because there are many hazards between fertilization and becoming full-grown. In captivity, many species of frogs and toads can live for surprisingly long times. They seem generally to average somewhere between 4 and 15 years. But the Common (European) Toad lived up to 40 years. Their tongues produce quantities of mucus to help in swallowing. And because no bone exists between the eye and the mouth, the eye is pushed against the roof of the mouth, forcing the food further back. The parotoid glands, the swellings behind the eyes, are a defense against predators. These glands secrete fluids that are toxic if taken internally.

 Both toads and frogs are carnivores, which means they eat other animals. Toads, unlike us, are cold-blooded. People think toads can give you warts, but they can’t. They think they can give you warts because toads have bumps on their heads that look warts but it isn’t true. Toads are part of the Bufonidae family. The Bufonidae family has over 300 species.

 

What Toads Eat

            Toads are carnivores, they eat other animals. Toads eat insects, grubs, slugs, worms, and other invertebrates like other amphibians do. As tadpoles, they eat plants. Toads, as pets, will eat fruit or vegetables. But toads in the garden eat insects.

 

Where toads live

            Toads live all around the world except Greenland, Australia, New Guinea, New

Zealand, Madagascar, and the Polar Regions. But they are most abundant in the

tropical regions. Toads can live farther from water sources than frogs can because they have tougher skin that doesn't dry out as fast as a frog's skin would. In temperate regions, toads hibernate in burrows. In spring they mate, and the females lay their numerous ova in pools in gelatinous strings 1.2 m (4 ft) or more in length. The tadpoles are smaller and darker than those of frogs and do not accomplish their transformation into terrestrial toads until autumn.

 

Mating

Male toads (and frogs) are not particularly bright when it comes to sex. They'll attempt to mate with anything that moves, including other males and floating leaves. Eventually they'll figure out they've made a mistake and try again with a different target. When they finally find a female, they'll climb on her back so that they can fertilize her eggs as she lays them. This mating grasp is called amplexus. Male frogs have specially adapted thumbs so that they can hang on to the female's back even if she gets bored and tries to hop away. The male frog also needs to hang on tightly to the female because sometimes more males try to join in the fun in a kind of frog orgy.

Most toads (and frogs) need to lay their eggs in water. Each female lays thousands of eggs at a time, in strings or slimy masses. The eggs hatch into tadpoles, which look very different from adult toads (or frogs). The tadpoles live exclusively in the water and breathe through gills instead of lungs like an adult toad (or frog). The tadpoles have a tail for swimming instead of legs and arms for hopping. Tadpoles have also a small rasping mouth for scraping algae off the bottom of the pond instead of the wide mouth and strong jaws suited to the adult toad's (or frog's) carnivorous diet. The process of changing from a tadpole into an adult toad (or frog) is called metamorphosis. Depending on the species, it can take a few weeks to a year or more for the tadpoles to grow up. Toads (and frogs) who live in dry places where rains are seasonal have to grow up quickly because the tadpoles will die if their temporary ponds dry up first.

Some kinds of toads (and frogs) have different ways to raise their families. In some species, the eggs hatch directly into little toad lets (or frog lets) and there is no tadpole stage at all. One kind of tree frog builds hanging nests; the tadpoles drop into water below as they hatch. The Surinam Toad is probably the weirdest of all: it carries its tadpoles around in a built-in nest in the spongy skin on its back.            

 

Scientific classification

Toads belong to the order Anura of the class Amphibia. The genus that includes more than 200 species is Bufo of the family Bufonidae. The giant toad is classified as Bufo marinus. The American toad is classified as Bufo americanus and the southern toad as Bufo terrestris. Midwife toads make up the genus Alytes of the family Discoglossidae.

 

Green Toad


The Green Toad is most often active at twilight but frequently will forage during the day following heavy rains. When threatened, it flattens itself against the ground. The reason that toads like the Green Toad can survive in dry climates is their unique system of absorbing water from the soil. Toads have a "seat patch" (you can see it when you look at their lower bellies), which is an area of skin that has the ability to draw moisture from the soil in which they sit. Toads never need to drink water!

 

Western Toad


The Western Toad is typical of many species in the true toad family -- plump and warty and found on land much of the year. Like many toads, the females lay tremendous numbers of eggs -- about 12,000 -- in two long strands in the water. This is the only true toad through much of the Northwest and it is active even when temperatures are as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cane Toad


Wherever the Cane Toad is introduced, whether to Florida or Australia or somewhere else, it becomes a nuisance within a short time. It breeds year-round and its populations can get enormous very quickly. Speaking of enormous, this is the largest toad and can weigh up to 4 pounds. One of the biggest ever found in the United States was nicknamed Jabba the Toad, after the Star Wars character. Cane Toads are active mostly at night.

American Toad



Wilderness areas, city parks, and most habitats in between are home to the familiar American Toad. Depending on location, these toads breed from February to July. Their trills, given both day and night, will lead you to them. American Toads are easily approached and watched when trilling. As with other toads, handling them will not give you warts. This helpful toad eats lots of insects.

Red-spotted Toad


At the twilight hour, when the red glow is fading from the western sky, watch for Red-spotted Toads climbing up onto rocks and boulders at the edges of a pond or spring. Here they begin their nightly activities, which include calling and feeding. These rock-climbing toads have flattish bodies that help them squeeze into and under crevices.

Texas Toad


During the evening after a good soaking rain, between April and September, Texas Toads will march across the damp, southwestern plains to small pools and water holes, looking for mates. One of these pools of water can turn into a swarming mass of Texas Toads in just a few hours.

Southern Toad


The Southern Toad spends the day inside its burrow and comes out at night to feed. It is often found in suburban areas, near houses and mowed lawns, where it feeds on insects drawn to night-lights. Like other toads, this species has large warts behind its eyes. The poison glands in these warts produce large amounts of a bad-tasting secretion. That's why toads often lower their head and arch their neck forward when disturbed. In this position a predator is likely to taste the poison first and is more likely to leave the toad alone.

Oak Toad



Every amphibian has its favorite hours of activity, and many amphibians are most active at night, when it is safer for them to roam around. The Oak Toad, however, is most often seen during daylight hours. This is the smallest North American toad. Watch for it rummaging around in ground litter and debris.

Woodhouse's Toad


This is the toad commonly seen at night catching insects beneath lights. Occasionally it is active during the day, but more frequently remains in its burrow or hides in vegetation. After rains these toads breed in shallow water that may last for only a few weeks. Their eggs, laid in long strings, hatch into jet black tadpoles that feed in warm shallow water and develop very quickly.

Great Plains Toad


This toad is primarily nocturnal (active at night), but is sometimes found foraging on cloudy, rainy days. It prefers loose soil where burrowing is easy. When in danger, it inflates its body, closes it eyes, and lowers its head to the ground. It is a voracious predator of cutworms, which cause extensive crop damage.

Colorado River Toad


This huge toad survives in one of the places where you would least expect to find amphibians -- the desert. It does this by spending most days deep underground and venturing into the desert at night to feed. In some areas, this species may not breed for several years in a row, but after heavy rains the tadpoles can be found in small creeks and temporary pools.

Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad


All narrow-mouthed toads spend a lot of their time underground, but if you look under boards and other ground debris, you are bound to find one eventually. When you do, you will see a strange-looking, pointed toad running to get out of sight. Often these toads can be spotted at night, when they are prowling around looking for their favorite food -- ants.

 

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