Inevitable the Toad

2021 September 5

For most of the summer, Sam has been finding this toad on our front porch when she goes out at sunset to lock up her chickens. So, I finally got some pictures of it on August 27 2021.


She named it “Inevitable”, because it is always there, even though most nights she picks it up and moves it to the garden off to the side (because she’s afraid that otherwise someone might step on it).


This is about as large as we have ever seen our local toads get. Normally we either see them about half this size, or as little “toadlets” about the size of a person’s fingernail in mid-summer, just after they cease being tadpoles.


The Michigan DNR says that there are only two species of toad native to Michigan, and this isn’t a Fowler’s Toad, so it must be an Eastern American Toad, Anaxyrus americanus americanus[1]. Looking at the selection of pictures that the Michigan DNR links to, they appear to vary quite a bit in the intensity of their coloration and their pattern. The ones around here seem to be in the less intense end of the color scale.

Anyway, we thought that it was the same toad every night, until the evening of the 29th, when Sandy rescued a half-sized toad from the road, and then while she was showing it to us, Sam found the normal big toad on the porch, and then Sam found another big toad just to the side of the porch, and as Sam was gleefully standing there with her hands full of toads, we realized that there were probably a few dozen all around the house. We are fine with this, there is nothing wrong with having toads about. There is a pretty good chance that they are using our fishpond in the back yard as their water source. While these toads spend almost all of their time on dry land, they do need access to a pool of water for moisture and for breeding purposes.

If you look on the back of the neck, behind the eyes, there are a pair of kidney-shaped bulges. These are the parotoid glands, which secrete a bufotoxin. The particular toxin from these toads is not particularly dangerous if you get it on your skin, but don’t eat it. Toads are emphatically not edible. Don’t let your dog eat them, it will make them really sick (and it might even kill a small dog or a cat). Luckily, our dog is elderly and no longer wants to murder and devour every small creature she sees, so she should be safe enough.

[1] Formerly, the name was Bufo americanus, but the genus Bufo was a “wastebasket taxon”, where a variety of terrestrial toadlike amphibians were put because no one was quite sure what their real relationships were. Within the past few decades, most of the former members of the Bufo genus have now been reassigned to different genuses according to what they were really related to.

One Response
  1. September 21, 2021

    Toads always seem wise to me as if they’re pondering deep questions. Not quick or intelligent mind you, but philosophical and wise.

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