Discovery's Pond is visited by American
Toads in March. They lay their eggs which hatch quickly. Our pond study curriculum includes learning the similarities and
differences of toads and frogs, watching and photographing the life cycle and development of the American toads and learning
more facts about the American toad.
Come back often to see more pictures!
Many people don't know the difference between frogs and toads.
They are quite different
animals, although they belong to the same animal group.
- Do not need to live near water to survive
- Have rough, dry, bumpy skin
- Have a wider body
- Have lower,
football shaped eyes
- Have shorter, less powerful hind legs
run or take small hops rather than jump
- Do not have many predators. Toad's skin lets out
a bitter taste and smell that burns the eyes and nostrils of its predators, much like a skunk does.
neither frogs nor toads will give you warts! That is just a myth.
to live near water
- Have smooth, moist skin that makes them look "slimy".
- Have a narrow body
- Have higher, rounder, bulgier eyes
longer hind legs
- Take long high jumps
- Have many predators
We have American Toads in our pond.
Here are some facts about them.
American toads have short legs, stout bodies, and thick
skins with noticeable warts. The skin color of American toads is normally a shade of brown, but it can also be red with light
patches, olive, or gray. The bellies are a white or yellow color. Toad skin color changes depending on temperature, humidity,
and stress. The color change ranges from yellow to brown to black. American toads have four toes on each front leg and five
toes connected together by a webbing on each hind leg. The pupils of American toads are oval and black with a circle of gold
around them. The sexes can be distinguished in two ways. Males have dark colored throats, of black or brown, while females
have white throats and are lighter overall. Also, female American toads are larger than male American toads. American toads
are between 50 and 100 mm in length but are usually around 75 mm. American toads can be distinguished from other species of
toads by the presence of several dark spots on their backs which contain only one or two warts each.
The eggs of American toads are black on top and white on the bottom (countershaded), and
embedded in long strings of clear sticky gel. The larvae that hatch from eggs are called "tadpoles." They are dark
(almost black) with smooth skin, round bodies, and a somewhat rounded tail. Like adult toads, larvae have defensive chemicals
in their skin. They grow to over a centimeter in length before transforming. Newly-metamorphosed toadlets are usually 0.8
and 1.3 cm long when they first emerge. Their coloration is similar to that of adult toads.
American toads require a semi-permanent freshwater pond or pool for their early development. They also require dense patches
of vegetation, for cover and hunting grounds. Given these two things and a supply of insects for food, American toads can
live almost everywhere, ranging from forests to backyards. They are common in gardens and agricultural fields. During daylight
hours they seek cover beneath porches, under boardwalks, flat stones, boards, logs, wood piles, or other cover. When cold
weather comes, these toads dig backwards into their summer homes or may choose another site in which to hibernate.
Adult American toads are carnivores, but toad tadpoles are considered herbivores, because they graze on aquatic vegetation
(algae). Adult American toads eat a wide variety of insects and other invertebrates, including
snails, beetles, slugs, and earthworms. Unlike most toads, who
wait for prey to come along and pounce on it, American toads can shoot out their sticky tongues to catch prey. They also may
use their front legs in order to eat larger food. They grasp their food and push it into their mouths. One American toad can
eat up to 1,000 insects every day. American toads are responsible for controlling the populations of many kinds of insects.
The number of insects they eat makes them a crucial part of controlling these populations.