How deep is the pond? Knee-deep! Knee-deep! The toads in the watershed's ponds, pools and wetlands are not telling jokes, though. The sweet serenades filling the air are serious business: attracting a mate. This month's quiz is devoted to the six species of toads found in the watershed. Can you match each toad to its photo, as well as its description? Answers are below.
- American Toad
- Eastern Narrow-mouthed toad
- Eastern Spadefoot
- Fowler's Toad
- Oak Toad
- Southern Toad
1. Unlike most toads, this toad has large, bulging eyes with vertical slits and smoother skin, which ranges from gray to dull green or brown. It is also known for paddle-like projections on its hind feet that allow this creature to quickly dig into the soil. During dry periods, this toad will curl up in a tight ball and excrete a liquid that hardens the soil around it, creating a pocket that keeps the creature moist. As soon as a heavy rain seeps into the soil, this toad emerges. Its call has been compared to the "wank" of a young crow.
2. This is North America's smallest toad; its length ranges from 0.75 to 1.3 inches. Its skin appears dark when the toad is cold, but as temperatures warm, the toad appears more brightly colored and its four or five pairs of dark spots become more visible. It also has a pale stripe down its back. It is mostly diurnal, unlike most toads, which are nocturnal. Its call has been compared to the "cheep-cheep" of a newly hatched chick.
3. This "flattened" toad has smooth, wartless skin that varies from gray to reddish brown and grows up to 2 inches long. It is the only toad in the watershed with a fold of skin behind its eyes and a pointed snout. It eats a variety of insects, but prefers ants. This toad's call has been compared to the bleat of a lamb.
4. This toad, while usually brown, can also be red, gray or black. The male has a dark throat. It has very visible knobs on its head with two crests that almost meet near its snout. It has fewer warts on its body than most toads. This nocturnal creature spends the day in a self-made burrow. It is often found in suburbs, where the lights attract the insects it likes to eat. It also eats snails and other invertebrates. Its call is a piercing, high-pitched trill.
5. This toad is usually brown, gray, olive green or rusty red with a light stripe down the center of its back. Black rimmed dark bumps are found on either side of this stripe. Its belly is light with only two or three spots near its chest. This toad has been known to lie still on it back and play dead if roughly handled. The male's mating call, a whirring trill, can last up to 30 seconds. Because this call attracts toads of either sex, it also has a distinct "release me" chirp when there is a case of mistaken identity involving two males.
6. This toad has the largest range in the United States, and is found almost everywhere except in urban areas or where it is too wet or dry. This toad's color, which ranges from yellow to brown to black, can change depending on temperature, humidity or stress. Adults are nocturnal, while the young toads are out during the day. It eats a variety of small invertebrates. It hops to quickly get within range of its prey, but once there, will walk to sneak up on it. This toad's call, a high trill, lasting 4-40 seconds, has been compared to a ringing telephone.
1. E Eastern Spadefoot
2. A Oak Toad
3. F Eastern Narrow-Mouthed Toad
4. B Southern Toad
5. C Fowler's Toad
6. D American Toad