Spring Means Toads

One thing that I've learned in the few years that I've had a pond in my garden is that Spring means toads, who spend most of their lives on dry ground but return to water in order to mate. In Missouri although we have a few species of toads that are only found along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the most common species are the eastern American toad (Anaxyrus americanus americanus, formerly Bufo americanus americanus) and Fowler's toad (Anaxyrus fowleri, formerly Bufo fowleri).

All of the toads in my pond right now are eastern American toads (from what I can tell), and they are in full mating mode. I can see them swimming around all day long even from the bedroom window, and can hear them for most of the day and night. Their sustained, shrill, trill of a call is amazingly loud, and can be heard throughout the neighborhood.


The majority of the toads in the pond are males, and they spend their time swimming around...

...and calling...

...and waiting...

...until they finally find a female and pair up.

Hey, I said PAIR up!

Don't you know how many toads make a pair?

I'll give you a hint: it's not three.

Okay, I give up.

Although this "pair" did sink under the water once in a while while I was watching, the female is currently swollen with eggs...

...so is very large, puffy, and exceptionally buoyant it seems.

I don't know if the male grappled to the front will be able to contribute when the eggs are laid, but I do know that it's the only other place that was available to clasp. Any toad that gets too close to the back of the correctly-positioned male gets a quick, powerful kick and is sent flying. It's quite hilarious to watch!

I love having these amphibians in my pond and garden!

I counted 20 toads in the pond a couple of hours before I took these photos, and there were only two mating pairs at that time. There were at least four mating pairs when I took these shots, and this morning as I write this the calls have stopped almost completely (for now). I suspect that means that the females have left the pond and I will find lots of toad egg strands out there today. 


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outlawgardener  – (April 2, 2015 at 9:24 AM)  

Cute and kinky toads! Amphibians in the garden singing away would be really cool! My imported frogs are quiet now so maybe there'll be babies soon. Or they got run over trying to go back home.

Mark and Gaz  – (April 2, 2015 at 9:33 AM)  

They're quite cute in their own way, and great for the garden too with potentially all the unwanted critters and slugs they can munch away!

Anonymous –   – (April 4, 2015 at 9:19 AM)  

Great shots!

Heather  – (April 11, 2015 at 10:49 AM)  

How amazing to have this show in your garden! Amphibians are the holy grail out here--everyone wants them in their gardens but they tend to be pretty rare. Awesome shots!

Alan  – (April 11, 2015 at 5:58 PM)  

Heather: toads are pretty common here. I would love to see a salamander or even some reptiles! (not in the pond of course)

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