August 23rd, 2007
Gulf Coast Toad

toad spawn
The pond comes to life.

Although the new pond attached to the garden house isn’t ready for fish or plants, wildlife has already discovered it. Feral cats and grackles both drink from it. Dragonflies or damselflies (I can’t tell them apart yet) hover over it, alighting on potted plants nearby. And the last two nights we’ve heard the deep croaking of some toad.

While skimming leaves from the surface, I discovered this stringy ick, which AJM (raised in far wetter clime than I) recognized immediately as toad spawn. This morning I saw a toad creep out of the pond and hop off to the back forty. It was barely dawn so I couldn’t get a very good photo. I think it is Bufo valliceps, the Gulf Coast Toad.

Gulf Coast Toad

When I Googled “frog spawn” I got a lot of sites in the UK. Do Americans call it something else? The UK sites are aimed at helping children protect frogs and toads and raise them to release. One site said that toads only mate where they are spawned. But that can’t be true since this toad mated in a pond that didn’t exist a year ago.

by M Sinclair Stevens

8 Responses to post “Gulf Coast Toad”

  1. From bill:

    I’ve always just called them “eggs.”

  2. From KAT:

    Congratulations on the toads! They should reduce your mosquito population a little. I had a Donna Karan jacket in the 80s that had big pillowy shoulder pads. It had a spotted pattern I called “frog spawn.” And we called the neighbors’ kids “spawn of Satan.” But I was working at a natural history museum at the time.

  3. From SMR:

    Awww, toads! We just call them eggs or egg strands. What comes out of them? Pollywogs! Such a great word. I wouldn’t think that this species only mates in its pond of origin; around here, toads are dependent on ephemeral ponds since that is mostly what we have — lakes and cattle tanks being a man-made addition.

    Damselflies close their wings vertically when they rest, and dragonfly wings lay flat. Their nymphs look really different; you’ll probably be seeing them soon in your pond, too. Possibly eating your tadpoles! So pretty and so vicious.

    They’ve morphed into pollywogs already. Yesterday they looked like little flakes of dried grass but today we can see them swimming around quite clearly. And the dragonflies have been dive-bombing the water. — mss

  4. From Angelina:

    You are inspiring me to provide a little habitat for frogs or toads in my own yard. Max would love that! I love frog noises and I hear them in my neighborhood in other people’s yards so I know they’re out there. Maybe in the spring I can build a little pond. Normally I’m not all that crazy for “water features” but when they attract cool wild life it seems to make so much sense to have them.

    Anyway, why would I not like water features? That sounds pretty stupid. I guess I get a little bit obsessed with the flowers and vegetables and forget that having a more complete environment is healthy.

    I’ve had toads for years because I have lots of mulch near the rain barrel and I also leave overturned clay plots for them to hide in and clay saucers of water for them to cool off in. However, this is the first time I’ve had a body of standing water for them to mate in and I’m pretty thrilled with how quickly they took to it. I’m as excited as any child, lying on my belly on the deck watching the pollywogs. I grew up in the American southwest so this is something I never experienced as a child. I don’t think you need a big water feature, which is expensive and somewhat intimidating. I’ve found a lot of interesting ideas of container ponds from books in the library. — mss

  5. From Ki:

    I remember seeing a fish pond covered with the gelatinous toad eggs which eventually produced zillions of tiny black tadpoles. These were of the Bufo Marinus, the giant toad so it was interesting that such a large thing could develop from those tiny egg masses.

    In only a few days the spawn hatched and now the pond is filled with tadpoles. I’m watching them with great interest, as is the neighborhood cat. I’ve seen quite a lot of lizards and toads this year. The more the merrier. We have plenty of bug for them when they grow up. — mss

  6. From M2 in Bothell:

    That’s an incredibly cool picture of the eggs against the tan against the webbing! I like frogs. Of course, I like dragonflies and fireflies, too, so whatever happens, I win. 🙂 Looks like the pond is a good thing, so far!

  7. From Betty Saenz Leander, TX:

    Great photos!! We have lots of Gulf Coast toads living in both our disappearing fountain and pond. We also have lots of Leopard frogs and peepers. Amphibians are great bio-indicators of our Earth. We feel like we are in the wild at night when the frogs and toads sing us to sleep.

    Come see my pond on the 2009 Austin Pond Society Night Tour Saturday, July 18th. see Austin Pond Society dot org for more info.

    Thanks. We’ve enjoyed the Ausint Pond Society Tour these last two years. Looking forward to seeing your pond. — mss

  8. From Evon, Austin Texas:

    I installed a pre-form pond in my flower bed a couple of months ago and I now have five gulf coast toads. This morning I found eggs. I read an article that toads are bad and frogs are good. Should I destroy the toad eggs? If I should keep them, what plants should I plant around the pond and what plants do I put in the pond for them to eat?

    OMG, no! I can’t believe you’re even considering destroying your toads. Toads are a gardener’s friend. They eat mosquitoes and other bugs. They are an indicator that your garden is healthy (that is that you don’t use pesticides and herbicides). Enjoy the wonder that has visited your garden. — mss

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