Summer Of The Toads
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I know that I ran some images of Sonoran Desert Toads just the other day and I normally don’t feature the same species so soon after I’ve posted about it. But, tonight’s images are superior to those that I posted recently and besides, there just aren’t a lot of Polar Bears loitering in Sabino Canyon lately, so I have to make do with what I have.
I was in the riparian area yesterday. The creek remains bone dry and there are only a couple of small pools of water just below the dam. I was a good 75 yards upstream from the dam and poking around in the brush when I saw something large and green on the ground about 15 feet from me. It was a Sonoran Desert Toad, an extremely large and obviously, very well fed Sonoran Desert Toad.
I stared at it, a bit dumbfounded. I’d never seen one of these creatures more than a couple of feet from water’s edge and yet this behemoth was casually making its way through the brush as if it was no big deal.
It was gigantic. Sonoran Desert Toads can weigh up to two pounds and this monster was every bit of that. It was also indifferent to my presence. It hopped directly toward me, coming within about three feet, when it stopped. We stood there (well, it sort of squatted while I stood) for about two minutes, staring at each other.
I decided to make a portrait, so I sat down on the ground, just a couple of feet away from it and took its picture. It didn’t mind at all. After a couple more minutes of mutual staring the toad casually hopped away, eventually disappearing in the dense underbrush.
When I got home I did a little more research about these animals. This toad’s behavior isn’t at all unusual. During the summer these animals have been known to turn up far away — sometimes hundreds of yards — from the nearest water. They are voracious predators and will eat literally anything — insects, small mammals, lizards, even birds — that they can cram into their huge mouths. This toad was obviously out hunting and, judging from its considerable body mass, doing it quite successfully.
If you look at the last picture you’ll see a large swelling on the side of the toad’s head just behind its eye. There’s a similar swollen area on the outside of its hind leg. These are poison-producing glands. Sonoran Desert Toads produce a poison that can be lethal if ingested. In this area dogs may fall victim when they mouth these toads. Handling one of them without immediately washing one’s hands is inadvisable.
Images taken with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite. All images made at M setting. The first two images were made at ISO 200, f8 @ 1/160. The third image was made at ISO 250, f10 @ 1/160.