Saturday, July 26, 2008

Further Adventures with the Colorado River Toad

(Colorado River Toad bufo alvarius a.ka. "Sonoran Desert Toad" Photo by Gus July 19, 2008)

It’s Friday night and Gus and I are sitting on the patio relaxing after our supper of red snapper and fresh green beans. The sun has already set and a thick blanket of clouds hangs above us in the sky. Over the Catalina Mountains we watch the lightning flash, providing an electrical show we can enjoy as Gus sips his beer and I drink my cup of steaming green tea. It has been a busy week for both of us and it is so nice to just sit.

The soft light of one patio lamp casts a warm glow over the red brick. Now, as I sit facing east and Gus sits facing west I catch a movement out of the corner of my eye behind and to the right of Gus. The large lump leaps again and I exclaim, “Oh, Oh!” Gus looks at me wide-eyed and asks “What?”

There on the patio is another Colorado River Toad! When Gus sees it he leaps from his chair and heads for the door. We watch as it hops neatly up on the raised patio and proceeds to hop right beneath the chair Gus had been sitting in. I wonder if it is the same toad we had seen the night we first discovered them and it hadn’t gotten out after all. Whether it is or not we can’t leave it here to endanger our dog, so I grab a nearby empty flowerpot. I scoop up the toad and dump it over the wall, all the while Gus is standing close to the door, ready to beat a hasty retreat inside if warranted.

Sonoran Desert Toad beneath the grass: Photo by Kathie 7-25-08)

I run and get the flashlight and we both stand looking over the wall at the wet looking toad oozing poison from its glands. By the time I run and get the camera it had hopped beneath some desert grass that is growing prolifically in this very wet monsoon.

(One happy Gus photo by Kathie 7-25-08)

We sit back down to enjoy the rest of the evening. I snap a photo of Gus sitting across the table with relief written all over his face. “You’re going to write about me, aren’t you?” he asked. “Yep.” Just then I see something moving along the top edge of the block wall we are sitting next to. I shine the flashlight on what I thought was a spider but turned out to be one of those darned crickets. “You know, toads eat crickets,” I said to Gus. “I’m not sure that’s a good trade off,” he replies as he moves his chair away from the wall. We sit in happy darkness watching the lightening flash.


Kathryn and Ari said...

Wow. Even the toads where you live are poisonous: that's intense. It's a good thing the ones in Maine aren't--they are absolutely everywhere this summer!

Pappy said...

Poisonous toads. Gus looks really concerned. Glad you blogged him on this one. Have a great weekend. Pappy

abb said...

poison toads??? Not in Connecticut! Come on back here! We're non-poisonous!

Texas Travelers said...

Great story. Made my day.

Nice toad photo too.


Naturegirl said...

Oh the adventures of sitting out on ones patio in the desert! Always excitement! Good eye...keep an eye on that dog..YIKES!!

TR Ryan said...

Evolution in the desert has produced some pretty volatile means of self defense. Gila monsters, beaded lizards and now this. Wow!

Scotty Graham said...


Thanks for all your nice comments in my blog...I am honored to be part of your blogroll....



bobbie said...

I love the toads and frogs around here. Don't know if I could deal with your part of the world, beautiful though it is.

Kathie Brown said...

Kathryn, if you ever bring Ari here, don't let her loose in toad season. Those things will make her very sick or even kill her. They're too big for Blossom to get her mouth around and I'm sure she has no interest in licking one but we are still careful with her. This is a totally new experience for us.

Pappy, yeah, I've tried to hide it but he is the city boy and I am the country girl. He's still my hero though for saving me from the rat. I know it scared him too.

tsannie, thanks for the invitation. My mother would love it if I did but I'll take poison toads over humidity and black flies any day. At least I can see these things coming! (It's the scorpions that scare me the most.)

Troy, glad to make you laugh.

Nature Girl, never a dull moment around here, even if you want one!

t.r. This was quite a new experience for us. We knew there were scorpions, tarantulas, gila monsters and rattlesnakes but no one warned us about posionous toads. With all this venom, spines and thorns you wonder why anyone would want to live here but it's really a wonderful place, made tolerable by AC of course.

You're welcome Scotty! I love your photography.

bobbie, I felt that way some at first but then I realized that so many people live here that it can't all be that bad. Most of the wildlife is managable and you can live in a fairly sterile environment if you want to. We happen to live out of town and in a nature preserve, so we see more of the wildlife than most people do. This kind of stuff is exciting for me. I can do without scorpions and rats though.