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American toad a welcome sight to find

Rick Koval/for the times leader

RICE TWP. — It wasn’t hard for Rick Koval and me to find an American toad to check off our list of herp species in Northeastern Pennsylvania

We found one while searching for other herps in a Rice Township pond, but it wasn’t the first.

American toads are found in virtually any habitat, from rural to urban. The terrestrial amphibian is a common sight in yards and gardens everywhere, and it should be considered a welcome inhabitant.

“They have a voracious appetite,” Koval said. “They eat a lot of the insects that you wouldn’t want around your house, like spiders, beetles, caterpillars and ants.”

American toads can survive in a non-aquatic environment because their skin is dry compared to other frogs and toads. All they need to hydrate is a small puddle or damp area and they’re good to go.

They can be considered the ultimate survivors of the amphibian world simply because they are adaptable to almost any environment, have a pretty effective defense mechanism and are actually pretty intelligent.

Although American toads are sluggish and easy to catch, they aren’t a popular prey species. They are equipped with glands that make them pretty distasteful to most predators… with one exception.

“The hognose snake is the top predator of American toads. It doesn’t mind the taste,” Koval said.

And the intelligence?

“I’ve seen them many times stationed under outside lights or bug zappers at night eating the insects that fall to the ground,” Koval said. “They know where to find an easy meal.”

What we are searching for

Species: American toad

Located: Rice Township

Status: Common, abundant

Size: Three to five inches in length

Eggs: Approximately 1,000 laid inside a continuous string. The eggs hatch in days and the tadpoles can develop into adults in as little as a month

Food source: Insects

Fact: American toads aren’t good jumpers. Rather, they hop a mere several inches at a bound. They are probably the least agile when it comes to frogs and toads.

To watch video of the American toad and last Sunday’s Eastern painted turtle, visit www.timesleader.com.

The following is a list of the herp species in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the likelihood of being able to find each one:

Frogs

American toad – easy (found)

Fowler’s toad – possible with effort

Pickerel frog – easy

Northern leopard frog – very difficult

Green frog – easy

Wood frog – easy (found)

Bullfrog – easy

Spring peeper – easy (found)

Gray tree frog – easy

Northern cricket frog – very difficult

Salamanders

Red-spotted newt – very easy

Spotted salamander – very easy (found)

Jefferson salamander – very difficult

Marbled salamander – very difficult

Northern dusky salamander – easy

Mountain dusky salamander – very easy

Northern two-lined salamander – very easy (found)

Long-tailed salamander – difficult

Northern spring salamander – easy

Northern red salamander – possible with effort (found)

Four-toed salamander – difficult

Redback salamander – easy (found)

Northern slimy salamander – easy

Turtles

Snapping turtle – easy

Spotted turtle – very difficult

Wood turtle – possible with effort

Eastern box turtle – difficult

Eastern painted turtle – easy (found)

Musk turtle – difficult

Common map turtle – possible with effort

Lizards

Five-lined skink – very difficult

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