Still In The Game
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Over the last couple of days I was able to capture images of both a Red-spotted Toadlet and a Couch’s Spadefoot Toadlet. The word “toadlet” actually exists in the English language and it means either a very small toad or an immature one. These little toadlets are definitely immature, having grown from eggs that were laid perhaps a month ago. The Red-spotted Toadlet depicted here is truly tiny, perhaps a quarter of an inch long.
Normally I wouldn’t have posted an image of an animal that doesn’t display its face, but I am fascinated by the ant that is hitching a ride on the toadlet’s back. What was it thinking of? That this was easy transportation? Or, that it was going to be a hero and bring back the biggest morsel of food to the colony that its fellow ants had ever seen?
And, here’s a Couch’s Spadefoot Toadlet. This little toadlet is nearly as small as is its Red-spotted cousin. I find it to be almost irresistibly cute.
The odds against either of these little toadlets making it to adulthood are enormous. An adult Red-spotted or Couch’s Spadefoot Toad lays several thousand eggs at once. If all goes well only one or two of those eggs produce offspring that survive to adulthood. These youngsters were fortunate to make it past the tadpole stage, becoming able to survive on land before whatever puddles they were hatched in dried up. They are still in the game after having faced the gauntlet of tadpole hood. But, now, they face the reality that they are utterly defenseless and on everyone’s menu. Insects, lizards, birds, they all view these toadlets as snack food. So, for them, life is a race to eat as much as possible in the next few weeks and to grow as rapidly as possible. Unlike their parents, the toadlets are active both night and day. The need for nutrition trumps the relatively greater safety of being active only at night. I’ve got my fingers crossed for both of these little amphibians.
Images made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, M setting, ISO 200. The first image shot at f14 @ 1/160, the second at f11 @ 1/160.