|A male American Toad sings his heart out at the Toad Pond|
Every spring, the American Toads converge at one particular pond at the Nature Preserve. The males arrive first and usually at night. The song of the male is a long pleasant trill, which he produces by inflating his throat sack. It’s this call that attracts the female toads to the pond. The males are noticeably smaller than the females, and this is quite obvious when you see the male perched on top of his mate. While in this position the female lays dual strands of eggs directly into the water.
|The relatively small male (on top) is clasping tightly onto his mate|
These mating rituals can become very raucous indeed, as unattached males try to pry apart already attached pairs. The male of the pair continues to hang on tight as sometimes 2 or 3 other males will work to dislodge him and take his place. A seething group of toads like this is sometimes called a “toad ball”. Being at the center of the ball can actually endanger the female’s life if she is held under water for too long.
|Male toads pile onto the poor female as she tries to lay her eggs|
The tadpoles hatch quickly –sometimes in just a few days, if the water temperature is warm enough. The young tadpoles form a tight colony and stay in shallow water where they remain out of reach from large predatory fish. Many fish know better than to eat one of these tadpoles, since the toxins in their skin can be potent enough to kill.
|American Toad tadpoles have very thin tails|
|A Northern Leopard Frog at the Toad Pond|
|The first Red Spotted Salamander seen in the woods this spring|