Amphibians are a wonderful species. Amphibian means "double life" which means they spend the first part of their life under water breathing through gills. Amphibians were the first vertebrate (animals with back bones) to leave water and come live on land. They're descendants from fish. The most common amphibians are frogs and toads. Some details about amphibians are: they breathe air through lungs and skin, they're cold blooded, they have scaleless skin, they lay their eggs in moist places and at birth do not look like their parents.
Frogs and toads are similar, but not exactly the same. Frogs have small thin bodies with long smooth legs, where as toads have small fat bodies and shorter thick legs. They use these legs to crawl around and only hop when they think they're in danger. They are also scattered with large bumps called warts. But you cannot get warts by touching a toad.
Most toads are about three inches long and spend most of their time on dry land. But the oak toad is one inch long, and the giant toad is almost ten inches!
The skin comes in many different colors, but their eyes are usually black. These large eyes are very good at seeing on land and in the water. They also have excellent hearing so they can hear your foot steps from very far away.
These toads are in danger. Farming and buildings destroy their homes and water and soil pollution make them sick. As toads die, the animals that eat them disappear too. And the insect rate is increased because the toads aren't around to eat them.
Toads are predators and eat mostly insects and worms. Toads eat a lot. One toad could eat 100 flies in only ten minutes! The toad only eats its prey when it's alive and moving. They can't really see the creature if it's not moving.
Most toads catch their food on the end of their long, sticky tongue. They have no teeth so they're forced to swallow their food whole. Farmers tend to like toads. They eat all those pesky insects that may be harmful to their crops.
Habitat and Hibernation:
Toads live almost everywhere except for the North and South poles: they enjoy warm, moist places. The Spade foot toad uses its feet to dig a burrow backwards in the soil. The toad stays in its burrow for a few weeks and only comes out if it's wet or rainy.
The toad hibernates until warmer weather comes because it's cold blooded and cannot generate its own body heat. Toads don't like the sun to much because it dries out their bodies. If their body loses too much water, they die. Because of this, most toads are nocturnal.
The louder a male sings the most likely he is to attract a mate. To make these sounds the toad puffs air into a huge vocal sac under his chin.
The females lay up to 30000 soft, clear eggs. Most toads put their eggs in long strings at the bottom of a lake, or string them around marsh plants. But the Midwife toad carries them on its back, that way they're safe from danger. Fish and other animals like to eat toad eggs. Some eggs hatch in one day, where as others take a few weeks.
When it hatches, the tadpole looks like a small fish. After a few weeks the tadpole begins to grow legs and breathe air like its parents. Later its back legs get longer and its tail shrinks.
Birds and snakes like to eat toads. Because of that most toads have to be equipped with some sort of defense. Most toads use camouflage to avoid getting caught, like the Cameroon Horned toad that lives in Africa. He has a leaf like patch of yellow skin on his back. But there are other ways that toads protect themselves besides blending in with their surroundings. Some puff themselves full of air so they look bigger, others show their brightly colored bellies so they look scarier! Some use poison. The American toad has poison on its back that tastes terrible, and predators will spit it out right away. In fact, many toads are poisonous, that's why you should always wash your hands after touching one.