If you live near a pond there is no doubt you have heard the incessant trilling of male American Toads over the past few weeks. The males call to attract females, the trill lasting up to a half a minute. Here at Tupper Hill they have been heard for about ten days now, thousands calling day and night. There could very well be a trillion of them!
The ponds are teeming with these amphibians as they swim around, trilling and embracing females to fertilize their eggs externally. This is called amplexus, a Latin term meaning “embrace’. The long, jelly-coated strings of eggs are deposited in shallow, still water. The eggs resemble a twin strand of beads. The jet black tadpoles hatch in about a week. A month or so later, tadpoles become terrestrial toads. These “toadlets” are tiny; one could fit on your thumbnail. They will hop away to become a nocturnal consumer of worms, beetles and other insects. Toads have a gland called the paratoid, which is located behind their eyes. This gland produces a toxin which offers them some protection from predators, but not all.
Toads have characteristically bumpy skin. Not to worry, though – toads cannot give you warts.