Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Visit from Mr. Toad

 Perhaps it's because of the recent wet weather, but I've been seeing more toads than in year's past. When I find a small one, particularly if I'm mowing at the time, I'll stop the tractor, pick the toad up and deposit him by the garage, behind the cool, leafy hosta.

 I know I've moved four small toads to that "safe" spot on the north side of the garage. That might also be why in recent weeks the rat snake has been hanging around the garage: an easy dinner.

 Today I've already finished with my mowing and I was already showered and walking back to the garden to complete a few small tasks. But there, on the concrete back porch, sat a large toad, seemingly unafraid of me. Only when I got too close would he hop but it seemed to be more of an automatic reaction than actual fear. He sat there contentedly while I photographed him or touched him gently.

Is he a toad or a frog? Well, most would commonly call this a toad. But in actuality, there's no difference. Both animals are amphibians and both belong to the same order (anurans). True toads belong to the family Bufonadae.

 And the "warts"? Nope, not going to cause warts in people (I'd have plenty by now if this was the case). That bumpy skin, however, does secrete poison but it's generally effective against the toad's enemies, not people. Still, after handling him, I washed with soap and water. No sense getting anything into my sensitive eyes.

 The bumpy skin is actually a most effective camouflage. Sitting on bumpy concrete, a quick glance does not differentiate the toad from the cement. The contrast is very slight.

 This is a larger toad than most and one that I'd probably see easily while mowing. I considered carrying him to the hosta bed but Mom thought best to leave him alone, letting him choose where to go. I suppose there's good eating on the south lawn and that's what appears to be within his sights.

 Here's a final shot, directly down from above. Let's hope I see him again in the weeks ahead. While he might not make the final definition of beautiful, isn't beauty in the eyes of the beholder? In my eyes, he's as pretty as toads get.

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