Saturday, May 23, 2009

Frog or Toad?

While digging out some perennials in our large garden bed this evening, we suddenly noticed this amphibian sitting very still in an unweeded area just a few feet away. I didn't want to get too close and scare it away, but this shot gives a fairly good idea. It was around three inches long. Despite the dark spots it was certainly not noticeably warty, and my first impression was "frog." But as I look at images of the frogs and toads listed on the Minnesota DNR website, I don't see it looking very like any of the frogs - but not strongly like any of the toads, either. The pale line right down the spine is suggestive of the American toad, but the outline of our little guy seems much smoother than that. I would in general more easily expect to find a toad than a frog in a garden, but the backyard neighbors have a swimming pool and we quite often hear what we believe are frog sounds from that direction in the summers. We didn't see ours hop away, didn't get a look at the feet, and didn't hear it make any sounds.

So, any experts out there?
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10 comments:

Patrick said...

Perhaps it's a Fowler's Toad, which is similar to the American toad?

John T. said...

I'm not an expert but I've recently seen a whole bunch of american toads. This one looks like he would fit right in. They just finished a period of mating night and day for about a week in the second week of May.
Maybe floating around in the water for a week does something to their skin?

Richard said...

It is as you say looks like an American Toad with the light stipe.
See picture at:
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://upnorthartmn.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/100_0172.308123717_std.jpg&imgrefurl=http://upnorthartmn.com/amphibian_photos&usg=__Hmg6al_-E5mMm6rYxImZkTPH_OQ=&h=599&w=800&sz=87&hl=en&start=30&sig2=17Vs1CQG51WqkpnT4zcU-w&tbnid=7soLxODQAaMFfM:&tbnh=107&tbnw=143&prev=/images%3Fq%3Damerican%2Btoads%26gbv%3D2%26ndsp%3D20%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26sa%3DN%26start%3D20&ei=O0AZSoWHO9GGtgfV5OT-DA

Jim H. said...

My dad was fond of quoting Pogo, the Walt Kelly cartoon character. One of his favorites: "A frog by any other name would be a toad."

Penelope said...

Patrick - when I looked at images for the Fowler's Toad), I said out loud, "That's our guy!" It looks exactly like that, and fits the description, including the black-edged spots.

But the range maps show this toad's nearest normal location as southeastern Iowa, and the Fowler's is not listed on the Minnesota DNR page.

So... might the range be shifting? Might this be a hitchhiker from somewhere else? Or could an American toad truly look so much like a Fowler's? Maybe so. A Google image search for American toad only shows about two of all the photos on the first results page that look fairly similar to this, but there are a couple. So probably that's it. Thanks to those who commented, and I welcome additional thoughts!

Mary S. said...

I'm no expert on frogs or toads, but many times have been digging in my garden in spring and unearthed a frog (or toad). The first time this happened I'm not sure who was more surprised, me or the frog. I'm not sure if it was hibernating or mating or what. Any frog experts know why they bury themselves?

Toadster said...

The reason you didn't see it hop away is: it walked away. It's a toad.

Penelope said...

Toadster - Thanks for the comment! I'm a beginner at amphibians; this is clearly an area for me to learn more about. I didn't know that toads don't hop. (What about "hoptoads"?) But we didn't see it leave by any means, hopping or walking. It was there, and then it wasn't.

cannonrivercabin@blogspot.com said...

Definitely Mr. Toad. If indeed, it's a Fowler's, (it could be), it might be interesting to contact the US Fish & Wildlife Services' Game Office in Bloomington, MN to ask their amphibian person about a shift in ranges/habitat. The latest reports I've been hearing is that they are already changing the TC metro planting zone due to the warming trend, the possum have moved north to stay, and several other species have been affected as well - moose are disappearing from the northwoods of MN - too warm... especially since you have a photo of the specimen. You can get their number from the Refuge Visitor Center (next door to their office) at 952/854-5900.

Nice blog - you should come birding at my house sometime! :)

Penelope said...

Cannonrivercabin - First, what a great name/e-mail address. (Do I know you, by any chance?) Second, thanks for the suggestion about contacting the F&WS!

Stop by any time... and I would be happy to go birding. Say the word and name the place! (Within reason... I march to the 8-to-6 drummer on weekdays...)