The Western Toad, Bufo boreas
The most commonly encountered toad of the San Dieguito River Park is the Western Toad. As its name implies, it is common throughout the Western states, from Alaska to Mexico.
An adult Western Toad can grow to over five and a half inches long – quite substantial! Look for the characteristic white stripe down the back as shown below. The wart-like protuberances on the skin of a toad are glands (not warts) that secrete a fluid that can cause tingling or numbness, a defense against predators. This fluid does not, incidentally, cause warts in humans or any other animals!
Western Toads like to eat invertebrates, especially insects, so are valuable in the sense that they keep the populations of these critters under control. In turn the toads themselves may be eaten by coyotes, ravens, raccoons and garter snakes.
During the early Spring breeding season, Western Toads will mate and search for water to lay their eggs in. Unlike most male toads or frogs, male Western Toads do not produce a mating call. Females may lay as many as 12,000 eggs per clutch, but obviously not all of these young will survive (or we would be knee deep in toads!).
Western Toad numbers have been declining in the United States, possibly due to habitat loss and degradation, so parks like SDRP are important in helping protect this species.
Photos and article by Robyn Waayers. Click here for more by Robyn. Click here for Nature Notebook.
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