Observation Highlight of the Week: Anaxyrus americanus americanus

Observational Highlight #13: Anaxyrus americanus americanus (Eastern American Toad)
Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve

© Joe Villari, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)

Hello everyone and happy daylight savings time!

Spring is fast approaching with late winter rains bringing about the movement of so many of our amphibian friends and beckoning the return and farewell of so many of our favorite backyard birds. This week's observational highlight from The Preserve comes to us from the preserve manager and passionate naturalist @jvillari. As you might have gathered from the array of warts, resting grump-face, and the impressively zen meditative posture, we are highlighting the humble Eastern American Toad! Toads are one of the most emblematic amphibian species within western (English) folklore and idioms: ugly as a toad, biggest toad in the puddle. There is also the myth that I believed as a child that touching toads could give you warts - oh no! Thank goodness that today it wasn't true or I wouldn't be able to see my hands. While these sayings might not mean much on their own, the fact that so many of us can easily identify a toad without much prior experience signifies their value within not only our ecosystem but our culture as well.

But let's dig in! the American toad is a ubiquitous species in our state and is the most widely distributed member of Bufonidae in North America. This wide distribution is a testament to the ability of the toad to tolerate the multitude of environments throughout the eastern United States and Canada. Typically associated with hardwood and pine-hemlock forests, the eastern toad can adapt to live in open fields, pastures, and even urban environments as long as leaf litter (or other hiding spaces), borrowable soils (loam/sand), and stable moist habitats are available. The ever-present issue of food is another factor, though the American toad is not a very picky eater. Their diet can include crickets, slugs, earthworms, spiders, or any other small critter it can fit in its mouth.

Soon enough, the toad breeding season will bring about an almost ear-piercing chorus of male toads singing their hearts out to attract the much larger, and quiet females. The call of the male is described as a long, high pitched bur-r-r-r-r- that can last from 6-30 seconds. You can listen to an example of this distinct call of the wild here, on the Virginia Herpetological Society's website (an amazing resource and whose membership includes yours truly). Following a rigorous courtship, which includes the incredible application of amplexus, the duel strings of potentially 4000-8000 eggs are deposited in shallow vernal pools or even waterfilled potholes (which I witnessed last year). The eggs may hatch in as short as four days but may take as long as two weeks. The small black tadpoles that hatch consumes algae and mature into toadlets after about two months. Remarkably, the longest living recorded captive toad lived to be 36 years old. This longevity is not however typical of wild toads which only live a few years at most.

As the end of this month marks the beginning of the American toads breeding season, please show extra care when moving about the public stream trails. If you are lucky enough to come across any of our resident croakers, please share your observation here on iNaturalist!

ABOUT #BullRunMountainsNaturalPreserve
The Bull Run Mountains are the easternmost mountains in Virginia. Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve is approximately 2,350 acres that serve as a living laboratory that sits in the backyard of our nation’s capital. The preserve contains 10 different plant community types and a plethora of regionally uncommon and threatened plant and animal species. In 2002, this land was dedicated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a natural area preserve to protect the unique ecosystems found here. As the owner and manager of the preserve, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is committed to protecting the special ecosystem found here and sharing it with the public through managed access.

Follow us on Social Media!
Instagram: @bullrunmountains
Facebook: Virginia Outdoors Foundation (Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve)
Our website: VOF RESERVES: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve
Meetup Events: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve Guided Hikes Group

Publicado el marzo 18, 2021 08:55 TARDE por mjwcarr mjwcarr


No hay comentarios todavía.

Agregar un comentario

Acceder o Crear una cuenta para agregar comentarios.