Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Anaxyrus cognatus

Not much navy or naviation lately, eh?

I'm working on a post about my first cat shot, but between trying to write it well, scan and upload the right images, work, snow, thunderstorms, calving, etc.........

Excuses, excuses. I got a million of 'em.

At any rate, and not to change the subject...

While the cold, hard rain was pounding down on me Saturday as I scurried around moving cattle and unloading cattle and catching hypothermia, I heard a familiar springtime sound, the mating song of the Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus).

Around these parts the song means heavy rains in springtime. The toad, you see, only comes out when conditions are right for breeding. Breeding requirements are springtime and playas (ephemeral vernal lakes) filled with water. Our playas only fill after heavy rains, usually in the 2-3 inch range.

The toads need standing water in which to lay their eggs, and the resulting tadpoles need enough water to hatch out, feed, and metamorphose.

If the playas don't fill, the toads don't panic. They just stay tucked in their deep burrows until the next time the playas fill with springtime rain water. It's not unusual for them to skip several years between breeding cycles.

As you might imagine, the sound of singing Great Plains Toads is very welcome. It means the spring rains have delivered enough moisture to ensure good grass.

The interesting thing this year was that the toads were singing on Saturday as the rain fell. They were silent on Sunday when it was cold and snowy. Did they make a huge mistake by coming out too soon? Did they freeze to death in the 24 hours of cold weather?


They were singing away by lunchtime on Monday, even though it was still chilly and there was snow on the banks of the playas. Tough toads.

Noisy barstids, too.

A few images of genuine Kimball County playa-bred Great Plains Toads.


  1. EWWWWW! Now you'll have warts and cooties too!

  2. Doh! That's where all those warts came from...

  3. I like toads, there is something meet, right, and salutary about toads. Of course, as a Badger, I believe that they must be kept away from cars, but I still like them.

    1. Some of my favorite among nature's cast of characters. These toads don't hold with automobiles.