|Florida Nature: Toads|
Toads are a beneficial amphibian for humans because they eat a large
quantity of insects. handling Toads or warts does not cause warts!
However a few Florida toads and frogs produce toxic or foul smelling
substances in their skin, so it is always wise to wash your hands after
handling them. The following Florida toads and frogs have the most
irritating skin secretions: Marin Toad, Eastern Spadefoot Toad, Cuban
Treefrog, and River Frog.
Eastern Spadefoot Toad- The Eastern Spadefoot Toad gets his name from a specialized "spade" on the heel of each hind foot, which is used for digging backwards into the soil, as deep as eight inches. Although quite common Spadefoot Toads are rarely seen because they spend most of their time underground during the day, emerging only on warm humid nights to feed. A combination of very heavy rainfall and low barometric pressure lures them by the thousands to perform their intense mating ritual. This might only occur one or two nights a year. Hordes of spadefoot toads may appear out of nowhere, hopping across country roads just after dark, as they head for flooded fields, saturated lawns and drainage ditches. Spadefoot Toads can be distinguished by their yellowish eyes and vertical pupils. They sometimes have a wild eyed look, but are in fact quite harmless. In Florida spadefoot males tend to be yellowish and females more of a brownish.
Southern Toad- The Southern Toad is a medium sized toad, and is the most familiar toad in Florida. Found in all habitat throughout the state, the Southern Toad prefers sandy areas, cultivated fields, pine barrens and hammocks. The Southern toad is the one most likely to be seen hopping around homes at night, looking for a meal under insect-attracting lights. In the daytime or in dry weather, the Southern Toad usually burrows into the ground. This toad is usually grayish, but dark brown or reddish specimens can be found. The prominent feature of the Southern toad is the ridges between the eyes which end in conspicuous knobs behind the eyes. These knobs are called cranial knobs. On rainy nights, the Southern toad calls out in a continuous high-pitched trill that can be deafening up close or in chorus!
Fowler's Toad- Fowler's toad is usually brown or gray and can be distinguished by the dark spots on its back, with each spot containing several warts. Fowler's Toad lacks the pronounced cranial knobs of the Southern Toad. This toad has a line running down its back like the oak toad, but it is not as prominent. Fowler's toad is an attractive toad and is very common through out its range in the eastern United States. The adults eat insects and other small terrestrial invertebrates, but shy away from earthworms. The tadpoles are also known to feed on bacteria and other organic material from the water.
Oak Toad-The Oak Toad is the smallest species of toad in the United States, growing to only 1.75 inches in length. Found in pinewoods and oak hammocks, the oak toad is darker, and much smaller than the Southern Toad. the Oak Toad has a conspicuous light-colored line running lengthwise down the middle of it's back. This toad's call sounds like the peeping of a chick, but much louder. While calling the male oak toad's throat pouch extends upward in front of his face, like a small inflated sausage! Oak toads, unlike most toad species, are usually active during the day. Breeding takes place in shallow pools that result from heavy rains.
Marine Toad (Giant Toad)- The big Marine Toad was introduced into Florida many years ago. Originally this toad ranged from South Texas to southern South America. The giant toad has been described as "the most introduced amphibian in the world". The marine toad eats certain beetles that damage sugar cane and may have been brought to Florida for this reason. The marine toad is a rusty orange color and produces a milky secretion in its parotid gland that is quite toxic and can sicken or even kill a dog or cat unlucky enough to bite into one. People need to be sure and carefully wash their hands after handling the giant marine toad. The giant marine toad has a stout body and short legs, with the digits of the forelimbs lacking webbing and those of the hind limbs being webbed. The skin is rough and warty. In Florida the marine toad can get up to eight inches long and weigh up to five pounds.
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