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13 Fun Facts About Toad

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What is a Toad?

Toads are a type of tailless amphibians that belong to the order Anura, making them close relatives of frogs. However, toads have some key distinctions from frogs that classify them as a separate animals.

Toads have bumpy, dry, warty skin, unlike the smooth, moist skin of frogs. They tend to be more terrestrial rather than aquatic, with shorter hind legs better suited for walking and hopping than swimming. Toads also have parotoid glands behind their eyes that secrete a nasty-tasting, toxic fluid when threatened. This poison discourages predators but is not usually fatal to humans.

While the term “toad” can refer to certain frog species colloquially, true toads belong to the widespread family Bufonidae. Some of their other adaptations include fat bodies, behavioral tendencies to burrow underground, excellent camouflage coloring, and loud mating calls that help attract mates during the breeding season. So while they may not be the most visually appealing creatures, toads have evolved a diverse array of survival mechanisms that enable them to thrive across habitats globally, from backyards to rainforests. Their success speaks to the remarkable creativity of natural selection.

Here are 13 fun facts about these bumpy backyard creatures:

Fun Facts About Toad

Fun Facts About Toad

1. Toads have “teeth”

Toads do not have true teeth like mammals, but they do have structures in their upper jaw called maxillary teeth that help them capture and swallow food. These tooth-like projections grip prey and aid the toad in pushing food down its throat.

2. They have poison glands

One of the toad’s best defenses is its parotoid glands located just behind the eyes. These glands secrete a nasty-tasting, toxic substance when the toad is threatened. While not usually fatal to humans, the poison can cause sickness if ingested.

3. Toads shed their skin

Instead of hair or fur, toads are covered in skin. As they grow, this skin becomes tight and restrictive. To accommodate their increasing size, toads will shed their external layer of skin every few weeks by rubbing against rocks. After shedding, they appear even bumpier than usual until their new skin stretches out.

4. They come in many sizes

The largest toad is the Goliath frog from Africa, weighing over 7 pounds with a foot-long body! On the other end of the spectrum is the petite gold toad from Central America that is a mere half-inch long.

5. Toads can live a long time

For animals so small, toads can be surprisingly long-lived. In captivity, some species like the American toad have been known to live up to 30 years or more! Their longevity is helped by their amphibious lifestyle and toxic skin secretions that deter predators.

6. They love to burrow

A toad’s favorite place to be is underground. Given the chance, they will burrow into soil, sand, or mud to create a moist little chamber where they can rest safely out of sight. Some species even spend the majority of their lives buried underground, emerging only when conditions are right.

7. Toads are musical

That loud trilling sound you may hear by the pond at night is a male toad looking for love! Each species has a distinct mating call that helps attract nearby females during the breeding season. They use vocal sacs near the throat to amplify their serenades and improve their chances of reproductive success.

8. They have great camouflage

From warty skin to dull coloration, almost everything about a toad’s appearance helps it blend into its surroundings undetected by sight. Some species even change color over their lifetime to match the soil or foliage. Toads rely heavily on camouflage to avoid predators. Some wait with mouths agape to ambush unsuspecting insect prey!

9. Toads have “seatbelt” anatomy

A toad’s anatomy includes some special adaptations that function as natural safety belts. Tendons anchor their eyeballs down so they won’t pop out when the toad’s swollen body inflates. They also have strong abdominal muscles and vertebrae in their short spine to prevent damage to internal organs when landing hard after big leaps.

10. They breathe through their skin

Unlike humans, toads do not rely heavily on their lungs for breathing. Instead, they use their thin, moist skin. Oxygen passes right through the skin’s permeable membranes into the bloodstream, while carbon dioxide exits the body the same way. This oxygen exchange takes place most efficiently in damp environments.

11. Toads have “golden saliva”

A toad’s saliva contains special antibacterial proteins called bufadienolides. In some species, the saliva may also contain toxins. Some say these secretions have healing properties and refer to toad saliva as “golden saliva”. However, ingesting toad poison is not recommended and can be dangerous.

12. Midwife toads carry their eggs

The aptly named midwife toad exhibits a unique parental behavior. The male frog wraps strands of the fertilized eggs around his hind legs, carrying them with him everywhere he goes until they hatch! He keeps the eggs moist and protected during development.

13. You can pay to have a toad lick your skin

Some spas in Japan offer an unusual beauty treatment – allowing giant Japanese toads to lick your skin! It’s not cheap, but they claim the toad’s poison has nourishing enzymes and chemicals that leave skin looking fresh and young. Of course, the safety of this practice is questionable.

Conclusion

While toads may seem humble, warty, and rather silly at first glance, they have many fascinating traits that enable their success. Their unique adaptations showcase nature’s ingenuity through survival strategies like camouflage, poison, musical mating calls, and parental care. Toads have found their niche in nearly every environment across the globe and continue to hop along unfazed! Clearly there is more to the toad than meets the eye.


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