|Rick Koval/for the times leader|
RICE TWP. — It wasn’t hard for Rick Koval and me to find an American toad to check off our list of herp species in Northeastern Pennsylvania
We found one while searching for other herps in a Rice Township pond, but it wasn’t the first.
American toads are found in virtually any habitat, from rural to urban. The terrestrial amphibian is a common sight in yards and gardens everywhere, and it should be considered a welcome inhabitant.
“They have a voracious appetite,” Koval said. “They eat a lot of the insects that you wouldn’t want around your house, like spiders, beetles, caterpillars and ants.”
American toads can survive in a non-aquatic environment because their skin is dry compared to other frogs and toads. All they need to hydrate is a small puddle or damp area and they’re good to go.
They can be considered the ultimate survivors of the amphibian world simply because they are adaptable to almost any environment, have a pretty effective defense mechanism and are actually pretty intelligent.
Although American toads are sluggish and easy to catch, they aren’t a popular prey species. They are equipped with glands that make them pretty distasteful to most predators… with one exception.
“The hognose snake is the top predator of American toads. It doesn’t mind the taste,” Koval said.
And the intelligence?
“I’ve seen them many times stationed under outside lights or bug zappers at night eating the insects that fall to the ground,” Koval said. “They know where to find an easy meal.”
Species: American toad
Located: Rice Township
Status: Common, abundant
Size: Three to five inches in length
Eggs: Approximately 1,000 laid inside a continuous string. The eggs hatch in days and the tadpoles can develop into adults in as little as a month
Food source: Insects
Fact: American toads aren’t good jumpers. Rather, they hop a mere several inches at a bound. They are probably the least agile when it comes to frogs and toads.
To watch video of the American toad and last Sunday’s Eastern painted turtle, visit www.timesleader.com.
The following is a list of the herp species in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the likelihood of being able to find each one:
American toad – easy (found)
Fowler’s toad – possible with effort
Pickerel frog – easy
Northern leopard frog – very difficult
Green frog – easy
Wood frog – easy (found)
Bullfrog – easy
Spring peeper – easy (found)
Gray tree frog – easy
Northern cricket frog – very difficult
Red-spotted newt – very easy
Spotted salamander – very easy (found)
Jefferson salamander – very difficult
Marbled salamander – very difficult
Northern dusky salamander – easy
Mountain dusky salamander – very easy
Northern two-lined salamander – very easy (found)
Long-tailed salamander – difficult
Northern spring salamander – easy
Northern red salamander – possible with effort (found)
Four-toed salamander – difficult
Redback salamander – easy (found)
Northern slimy salamander – easy
Snapping turtle – easy
Spotted turtle – very difficult
Wood turtle – possible with effort
Eastern box turtle – difficult
Eastern painted turtle – easy (found)
Musk turtle – difficult
Common map turtle – possible with effort
Five-lined skink – very difficult