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.