American Toad-Hop Toad

American Toad-Hop Toad
1. The American toad is a common amphibian that can be found in the woods just as easily as a suburban backyard. They are easy to catch and a welcome addition to any garden because of their amazing appetite for garden pests.

2. Toads are easy to distinguish from true frogs by their dry warty skin and low hopping method of movement.

3. However, like true frogs they hatch from an egg as a tadpole and go through a  metamorphosis before turning into a toad.

4. Like all amphibians, American toads have highly permeable, glandular skin. It allows the toad to absorb all the water that it needs through its skin.  It can also absorb oxygen from the air through its skin (this is in addition to gas exchange through the lungs).

5. They eat a wide variety of insects and other invertebrates, including snails, beetles, slugs, and earthworms. 

6. Polygynous. American toads breed from March to July each year, depending on location. The male toads establish territories and begin calling the females.

7. Some people call these common creatures "hop toads", and they do indeed move about in short hops rather than long leaps. 

8. Most toads are brown, but their colour can range from grey-brown to red-brown. Breeding males have a black throat and are smaller than females.

9. Toads emerge from hibernation and fill the night air with long, trilling calls in May and June.

10. Strings of 6 to 12 thousand eggs are laid in warm shallows; the small dark polliwogs develop rapidly and transform into miniature toads by September.

11. Toads are among the last amphibians to hibernate each fall, and may be seen into late November. 

12. Toads have a dry, "warty" skin. The "warts" are glands that contain a white sticky substance intended to turn away predators biting the toad.

13. Their hind feet have special small knobs for shoving soil aside so they gradually sink and bury themselves.

14. North American toads have toxic skin glands as do many central and South American tree frogs.

15. Toads have been called “bats of the ground” for their amazing ability to eat huge numbers of insects, many considered detrimental to humans-up to 10,000 a season.

16. There are even some snakes, such as the eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platyrhinos), which are predatory specialists that feed only on toads.

17. Some reports say that Native Americans in the southeastern United States used the toad’s skin toxins to put on the tips of their arrows.

18. Toads were respected as important parts of nature by many Native American cultures. In at least one culture the toad played an important role in their story of the earth’s creation. In the Huron story of the woman who fell from the sky, the toad was the only creature that was able to collect dirt, which the woman then put over the shell of a turtle and created the earth. The toad also was the source of all the earth’s fresh water.


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