MORTIMER EXHIBITING HIS BACK STRIPE AND PUFFY POISONOUS GLANDS LOCATED ON HIS BACK BEHIND HIS EYE AREA -- ONE ON EACH SIDE
Yesterday, I was out early in my small garden to weed before the heat gathered its energy to swelter the day. I had put boards down on the pathways to help the freshly tilled soil from compressing.
As I stepped on my first board something jumped out from underneath it. There sitting in the soil was a large American toad. It jumped on one of the boards and turned its whole body and looked my way. "Well hello," I said to the beautiful toad. I then walked to another board and another American toad jumped on one of the path boards. "Well, do we have a team here?" or maybe a male-female relationship?" I thought if you are a pair, I definitely have to to give you names to keep you straight in my mind. With that thought in mind I gave them the names of Mildred and Mortimer. M and M -- since they both had a basic skin color that was milk chocolate brown.
The toads showed all the markings of an American toad (Bufo americanus). Dark warty bumps in groups of one and two "warts" were prominent across the their backs. A light stripe sometimes evident on their backs was seen. Overall their thick dry skin had earthy color variations that blended with their environment which helped me identify who they were. I understand that American toads can change their color according to various conditions. Although they have poisonous glands near their eyes -- they are not poisonous to humans. But its a good idea to wash your hands if you handle them. Marvelous In Nature has some terrific shots of the American toads
MORTIMER QUICKLY TAKING OVER THE CROCK HOUSE I HAD PUT DOWN FOR HIM
I lifted the board that Mildred first popped out from under and discovered a small cave-type pile of soil. I could not find the home of Mortimer's. I had an idea. I had heard that toad's use homemade or manufactured toad houses. I quickly found an empty clay-crock and split it lengthwise and viola -- I had two houses for my garden friends.
As soon as I put down the homemade crock house next to Mortimer he hopped into it instantly! Mildred snubbed my new housing attempt. She disappeared back under her adopted board.
Mildred snubbed my new housing attempt. She disappeared back under her adopted board.
Rain has come in buckets almost everyday this spring. Wonderful for the gardens that were planted early in March. But an unexpected bonus for my garden was that the wet soil provided the best conditions for my toad friends. They could snuggle down in the moist soil giving moisture to their skin.
So they are playing a very important symbiotic role with me in my garden. I will assure them water and housing be it board or homemade house and they will eat my insects and grubs at night. A wonderful combination for us.
American toads are very impressive controllers of insects, snails, worms and other invertebrates. They protect themselves against predators by secreting a poison from the glands behind their eyes. Watch your dogs that they don't try to grab one in their mouth or you might be taking an expensive trip to the vet.
Today, I went out to the garden to see if Mildred and Mortimer were still in residency in my garden. Mildred was still under the board with the empty crock house nearby. I lifted the board and there she was all snug in a soil surrounding that she had made for herself. Mortimer was comfortably residing in the crock house across the garden from her.
Two hours after my visit to the garden it started to rain. Instantly with the first rain drops -- from my little garden came the male mating call. Oh I think I get it -- its spring and mating time for the toads? Or was it just a joyous song because it was raining?