Creatures & Critters: Toads Edition

Meet Al and Wally!

Al and Wally are the Nature Center’s Great Plains Toads. The great plains toad is covered in red and yellow wart-looking spots that actually contain glands that secrete poison. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt if you touch them! The poisonous milky fluid makes them taste bad to predators, and it is harmful to predators when swallowed or if it gets in their eyes. Toads’ main predators are snakes, and unfortunately for toads, some of them, like the garter snake, are immune to their poison. They will inflate their bodies to be harder to swallow.

Great Plains toads will gather in spring and summer in shallow water. A single female can lay up to 20,000 eggs! The eggs will hatch in two days and metamorphosis occurs six to seven weeks later. If there is a period of drought, the toads may not breed. Great Plains toads will do majority of their hunting at night. They like to eat earthworms, cutworms, and a variety of insects. They like to live in area that are damp and open. You can typically find them in grasslands and farm fields. They will dig burrows to hide underground during the day.

When they feel threatened, the Great Plains toad will take a deep breath and puff itself up so that it looks bigger than it really is and can scare its predators away. They will wait for prey to come along and will pounce on it. They also will shoot out their sticky tongues to catch prey. One toad can eat up to 1,000 insects every day! While growing, toads shed their external skin every couple of weeks.

Al and Wally