Tending the garden Caring for the young flowers Jump back! Happy toad.
I am always excited to see the first toads of the season and the Eastern American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus americanus) is the type of toad that I encounter the most.
These toads are between 2.5 and 3 inches long and may be gray, greenish gray, or various shades of brown. Adult toads generally live in moist, open habitats like fields and grasslands. The Eastern American Toad is also a common resident of gardens in the Northeast. These toads should be seen as a welcome guest to your garden because they will eat harmful insects and other garden pests.
One of the distinct features of the Eastern American Toad is the parotoid gland which is located behind each eye. This gland can secrete a milky alkaloid substance known as bufotoxin. Bufotoxin is the name of a family of substances that may or may not be toxic. These substances are found in the parotoid glands, skin and venom of many toads and other amphibians. Bufotoxins can act as a neurotoxin to deter predators. The location and size of this gland is one of the characteristics that distinguishes the Eastern American Toad from the Fowler Toad. Check out this PDF from the Virginia Herpetological Society to see the differences.
The call of the Eastern American Toad is described as a high-pitched trill that lasts up to 30 seconds. Some say it sounds like the ringing of a telephone. Listen to the Eastern American Toad here.
Toads, frogs, newts, and salamanders are all part of the amphibian family. These cold-blooded vertebrate animals are distinguished by having an aquatic gill-breathing during their early larval stage, followed by a land-based lung-breathing in the adult stage. According to the American Museum of Natural History there are over 8,000 documented species of amphibians. As I was writing this post, I quickly became lost in all the different characteristics of these fascinating animals. It again highlights for me how much there is to learn about the world we live in.
- Virginia Herpetological Society – Eastern American Toad
- National Wildlife Federation – Toads
- Missouri Department of Conservation- Eastern American Toad
- American Museum of Natural History-Herpetology
What is the sit spot?
A sit spot is a foundational practice for many people who are looking to develop a deeper connection to the natural world. The sit spot is a place where you can go and be with nature. You use this spot to observe, investigate, and explore the natural world. It is a place that helps you connect to a place. A sit spot can be in the wilderness, but it can also be in the suburbs or the city.
The Wilderness Awareness School says there are three factors to consider when choosing your sit spot:
First, you should feel safe in this place. Second, there should be at least some components of nature present, make sure that you are least outdoors. Finally, the convenience of your spot is critical. The closer your sit spot is to your home, the more likely you’ll visit it regularly. It should be less than a five-minute walk from your front door.
What to learn more about the sit spot? Check out the Wilderness Awareness School’s Core Routine section.
I really like this haiku – in addition to rich natural world description here as everywhere, you manage just a touch of ambiguity through the ‘ jump back’ it could have been you, saving the toad from being stomped on or the toad… and there is so much more in it…
Hi Barbara, Thank you so much for your comment. I always appreciate your feedback!
you know I had thought I’d followed your blog and then kept missing posts; turned out wonky wp had unfollowed me. I keep en eye on that now, 🙂
Those little guys blend so well into their surroundings, and I can feel the surprise in the “jump back!” part of your poem 🙂
Thanks Dave! Both frogs and snakes do that to me. They seem to show up in all the places I don’t expect them.
My son spied one of these critters on our walk last Sunday. They are photogenic little beasties and move slow enough to get a good shot when you spy one. I will now remember to look for those glands behind the eyes.
Yes. Those glands a very prominent and they do their job when a dog tries to pick up one of them. I have had a few incidents of dogs spitting out the toad and then drooling for a bit.
It looks a lot like a cane toad – an introduced species here in Australia that has become an invasive pest.
Hi Kate, thanks for the comment. I will have to look into the cane toad in Australia. This is not something that I am aware of.
That haiku is so funny good
So glad you liked it!