Amphibious Landings

What you need to know about pestorking a toad:

  • Male cane toads often wrestle with each other in an effort to grasp a mate.
  • Male toads will grasp any female that comes within reach and retain their hold unless displaced by a rival male.
  • Females can actually manipulate the outcome of male-male competition by inflating at the right moment.
  • A female toad inflates its body to prevent an amorous male from mating with it.

Like we need an excuse to post gratuitous photos of toad sex.

Female toads inflate to avoid sex [BBC, via LuxMentis]

There’s a joke in there somewhere, but I fear the resulting email.

I have seen the same behavior in clubs. The men latch on, and will not let go unless displaced by another man. The female will strategically inflate as necessary to thwart the undesireable man, and allow the diserable man to inseminate her.

There is considerable chest-beating, similar to that seen in gorillas, and wallet-displaying behavior, among the competing males.

The lower status males skulk nearby, trying to avoid the notice of the alpha males, so as not to provoke a head-to-head wallet competition, but should an alpha male grow overconfident, and let his attention lapse, occasionally a lower status male is able to dart in and, with specialized “sensitive guy” displaying behavior, induce the female to slip off to his lair while the alpha is distracted. This is how the genes for intelligence are usually propagated.

I like toads. There is a toad who hangs out on the porch come summer. I don’t know much about his sex life but he seems like an eminently sensible animal. If the dogs put their mouths on him they come home foaming. I don’t know where he goes in the winter. I look foreword to his reappearance next spring.

We don’t have cane toads. We have toad toads. They are green.

@Benedick: For you, Benedick, another young Prom story. When Prom was a tadpole, toads were plentiful. The front yard was always teeming with them, they had to be avoided when mowing the grass. I always loved them, and despite the widespread belief that they were the cause of warts, I never feared handling them. They are wonderful little creatures, and I admire all the little simple creatures that somehow survive their lives which are so much harder than the life I find so difficult, despite my relatively enormous size, strength, and intellect.

I see so few these days, its like they have disappeared.

Box turtles, also, I adore box turtles, what wonderful, absolutely fabulous creatures, they look so much like miniature versions of my fathers WWII Army helmet, which was still somewhere around the house in the early 60s, but disappeared sometime since, but with four little legs and a little head, on a stringy, but strong neck, just like an old man’s neck. They were also common, in the yard, when I was a lad, but now, so rare to see one.

Is it because when I was 10 I spent so much time with my nose to the ground, and saw them, or are they really gone?

But on my long, horrid drive through the wilderness of the Jersey Pine Barrens every day, I will occasionally see a turtle attempting to cross the road, and when I do, I always, always, stop, and help it across, so it won’t be splatted by the rednecks who would aim for them, if they were still in the road when they came along (they being the rednecks).

When I was young, I could find tadpoles pretty much at will, whenever I had a notion to find some tadpoles. Its now probably 35 years since I have seen a tadpole. I could find newts, under old logs, at will. Even little corn snakes, and sometimes sizeable black snakes, these were animals I found, sometimes captured and placed in a shoebox and tried to make comfortable, but my parents always soon made me turn them loose whereever it was I had found them. Birds eggs, and baby birds, fallen from their nests, these were also common, but I was always told never to touch the baby birds, because if I did, the story went, the mommy and daddy birds would reject them, and I respected that.

Now, I occasionally take my boy, my nine year old boy, for walks in the woods, and try to find these treasures for him, to teach him this bit of childhood, because he is not free-range, as I was, and has no coterie of fellow children to hand down these aspects of childhood, but for the life of me, I cannot find a newt, or a tadpole, or a toad. In truth, he should be the one finding these things and bringing them home to show me, but thats the tragedy of our suburban lives of fear and overly structured child-rearing. And I have lost the art.

Instead, he comes home and tells me stories he learned from the Dare officer in school, a cop, sent to brainwash the kids and set them to spying on their parents. Just yesterday, he gave me a lecture about the drug ecstacy, he related a story that the Dare cop told him, about a man who took ecstacy, then took a shower, and shampooed his hair, and then hallucinated that the bubbles from the shampoo were attacking him. This is word for word the story my 9 year old told me, the cop told him that the ecstacy “addict” jumped out a second story window and was arrested running amok, naked, in the streets.

I so wish my son were spending more time exploring the woods and the swamps, and turning over old logs to find newts, and less time being told fairy tales by cops, at the age of 9, in his school.

@Promnight: The boys’ club at the late great Albuquerque Tribune had horny toad bolo ties. I wore mine for the reporter’s mug shot papers do for Important Projects. I also have a clear plastic scorpion bolo tie that I got at the Gallup NM flea market for 50 cents. That conga drum on my FB profile picture – Gallup flea market, 10 bucks.

Son of RML and I were fishing up in the Pecos mountains east of here the summer before last when we encountered a little bright green snake sunning itself on a rock in the river. We took its picture and consulted the reptile book upon getting back to town. It seems that biologists believe that the range of our little friend is limited only to the Jemez mountains northwest of here over by Los Alamos.

Also, check out my FB photos to see the Pennsylvanian era (330 million years ago, when that part of the state was a swamp over by Cuba) tree bark fossil I found while deer hunting one day.

@Promnight: I think they are vanishing. I see a few toads. Fewer bats – and they used to be all over the place a few years back. Of course a lot of deer. And the dogs hunt snakes. They found one the other day, God knows how. I had a similar time to you when I was a kid because I would always spend my summers in Scotland.

Interesting that it’s not OK to allow kids to hear about sexuality but it is OK to fill ther heads with Tales from the Crackhouse.

If you haven’t seen it, the documentary “Cane Toads: An Unnatural History” is definitely worth watching.


Somewhere towards the middle, there’s an intensely creepy Australian dude who discusses how much he enjoys listening to the toads mating…

I have to put in a word for frogs, there is a species of frogs, hereabouts, they are called “spring peepers,” and there is no shortage of them and they are a delight. I don’t know much about them, I have never seen one, but they live in wet areas, marshy forested areas, they may even live in trees, I have never looked them up and read about them, instead I just delight in them when I hear them. Of course, now I will go look them up on wiki.

They are the first harbinger of spring, here, and they announce spring with a symphony, a chorus. They “peep,” its just a simple “peep” sound they make, but it seems that wherever they can be found, they are their in great abundance, and if you can find a patch of wet woodland where they are living, in March, you hear them, in their thousands, peeping, thousands and thousands, and its, well, its loud, very loud, it fills the air, its constant and almost deafening, its wonderful, I love it, now I am going to see what they look like.

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