Saturday, September 13, 2014

Welcome to the Texas Toad Spa!

This was the scene the other night at the lid full of water we have on our back porch for critters. (It's actually the lid off one of the barrels we made into rain barrels.) There were six Gulf Coast Toads, but when I came to take the picture, one got spooked and hopped out. To the right there's also a Southern Leopard Frog coming to join them.

Toads are quite common in my yard, but the frog is new. The main difference between frogs and toads is that frogs stay around water, while toads live on land and only go to water to breed. I didn't think my yard was wet enough for frogs, so I was pretty surprised when one showed up and started hanging out with the toads. I've seen this particular frog three times now. He's a bit more skiddish than the toads and can leap much farther if you spook him.

Yesterday I saw another leopard frog in the water. This is a definitely a different individual! I can tell because it's quite a bit smaller than the other one. So now we've got at least two frogs.

The only thing I can figure out is they must be coming from my neighbor's yard. She has some kind of a fountain over there. I've heard male toads singing over there, and now I wonder if some leopard frogs have been breeding in there. That would explain the small ones wandering over here. (There have also been quite a few small baby toads, not just big fat ones.)

During the day, the toads retreat to various burrows they have around the yard, while the frogs must go back to my neighbor's fountain. Here's one that's made itself at home under one of the agaves in our xeric garden in the front. All kinds of small critters love to burrow under agaves, cacti, and other spiny plants. It helps protect them from predators.

Next time I see my neighbor, I really must thank her for having this fountain that's turning out to be such a great population source for all these wonderful amphibians!

Speaking of which, we're still working on our own backyard pond. It's still a big hole in the ground, but my husband has ordered the skimmer, and will order the pump next. It's just been too hot to do much work on it out there, but once it cools off I hope we can go ahead and get it done. The frogs and toads should love it!

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