The other morning while digging bamboo rhizomes in Ted's garden, when we'd stop for a quiet breather we'd sometimes hear a rustling of the leaves that didn't seem like it was caused by the wind or our own movements. We both heard this a few times and it seemed like there was some creature moving around in the leaves -- we just couldn't be sure though.

Until this little American toad was uncovered or decided that he'd had enough of our raking and digging and decided to make a run for it. I saw him hopping over the leaves just where we had been working -- it's a wonder we didn't crush him or otherwise cause him harm.


This guy (or maybe girl -- I didn't examine all parts of the toad for more clues because I thought it had been through enough of an ordeal already) had probably recently emerged from hibernation. I probably should have fed it an earthworm to make up for disturbing it so much -- I didn't think of it at the time though.

If you look closely you can see a little bit of milky white fluid on the toad's skin, right in the center of the above photo. That's the poisonous bufotoxin toads excrete to make them unpalatable to predators. This may cause some skin irritation to some people, but it isn't dangerous to humans.

I see toads in my yard a couple of times every year but I'm hoping that I'll be seeing a lot more of them now that I've got the pond. Although toads live their adult lives on land, they need bodies of water in order to reproduce.

I have some experience with that, as a few years ago I observed toads mating in my little stream. It's one of my favorite garden happenings to date, and I hope I'll be repeating it every year from now on.

I know toads can't change their facial expressions, but I really like the calm look they seem to exhibit. Maybe it's the little chin, or the "biting" of the lower lip -- something about them just says "relax" to me.

As much as I would have loved to spend more time observing and photographing this guy, rain was coming and there were more bamboo rhizomes to dig. Ted has a small pond at the other end of his yard, so I released this one near it, far from our digging and trampling, then got back to work.

Fingers crossed for many more toad (and frog) photos and posts this year!

(If you haven't seen it yet, please take a look at my other toad experience. You'll enjoy it, I promise.)

Missouri Toads and Frogs (PDF)
More info about Eastern American toads from the University of Rhode Island


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sandy lawrence –   – (March 13, 2012 at 8:46 AM)  

Alan, I'm glad Mr. Toad wasn't hurt, too. I love toads. I visited your older toad post. Fascinating! I sent it to my grandchildren. Thanks for documenting it.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (March 13, 2012 at 9:44 AM)  

I absolutely loved the last photo where the load looks straight at you. I wish we had more toads, but our yard is too dry.

Robert Pummer  – (March 13, 2012 at 11:26 AM)  

I really like your article and photos, but am disappointed that you did not sex the toad so that we'd be able to ship he/she/it a mate.

Alan  – (March 13, 2012 at 2:24 PM)  

Sandy: I knew you'd like it!

Gerhard: just leave a hose trickling in the yard. So one of your daughters doesn't get to go to college -- it's not for everybody! ;-)

Robert: I'm pretty sure it's a male. The question is: will you be able to accurately ID a female before you ship it?

Curbstone Valley Farm  – (March 13, 2012 at 5:34 PM)  

A charming fellow! I miss seeing toads, our last garden was almost overrun with them one spring right after we put in the pond. Here I mostly see (and hear) the tree frogs, but no toads. Our 'Toad House' in the herb garden is now just a mere ornament :(

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