American Toad

By William T. Hathaway

American Toad

Despite the fact that American Toads are only commonly seen during late summer and early fall, there seems to be a significant absence of toads in many local areas. As far as I can determine, the only scientific evidence available points to pollution as causing the decline in some toad populations. Zoologists list hognose snakes, garter snakes, herons, hawks, and large diving beetles as being predatory upon toads. Even raccoons may feed on toads.

American Toads hide under logs and rocks or dig under forest litter during the day, digging deeper under the litter to hibernate during cold months. American Toads are most active on warm humid nights. After springtime mating, female American Toads may lay several thousand eggs in long, jellylike strings within a shallow pool of water. Eggs hatch from three to twelve days, depending on water temperature. Hatchling tadpoles may take as long as seventy days to develop. Newly metamorphosed toads hang around their pond for a while before hopping off to distant environs. It is likely that the large number of eggs may compensate for the drying up of many shallow ponds. Unless there remains a thick layer of mud after the shallow water evaporates, immature toads will “bite the dust.”


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