Sunday, July 17, 2011

Loads of Toads

It shouldn't come as a shock, judging from past entries, that I'm a fiend for creatures. Society's castoffs such as retired greyhounds, abandoned pets, nuisance animals and wild beasts strike a particular chord with me - as such, it makes sense that I have a real weakness for... weird critters. I'd like to introduce my outdoor dependents, two Gulf Coast toads that live under the porch.
They don't have names, and don't need them - they're simply a wonderful mated pair, content in their little garden of oddball plants, weird pottery and plentiful food. Here's a shot of the lovely girl, awaiting an insect-ilicious meal at dusk. The 1940s "Our Baby" vase pretty much says it all, as these animals are basically adopted children, as far as I'm concerned...

This is the fellow, getting a drink from the garden's water dish. At the time I kept a large nazar boncuk (glass Turkish charm) in the dish - partly for its intended purpose, and too in an effort to ward off birds and other potential predators. Look at how beautiful these creatures are - their color patterning and skin textures are truly remarkable...

Two items of interest - toads drink through their skin, particularly on their bellies. As well, the best way to differentiate between sexes in Gulf Coast toads is via their throats - the ladies are solid sand-toned, while the gents boast a lemon-yellow patch. Often the gals are a bit larger than their partners, and this couple is no exception to the rule. Evidence:

I should mention that I nurture the welfare of these little beings - I keep a supply of meal worms on hand, and surround their little cavern with thorny roses, Spanish Bayonets and other prickly plantings - thus keeping stray cats at bay. Along with their underground lair, these toads have an alternate shelter - a "toad house". These are easy to make - mine is simply an upturned flower pot, with a doorway shattered out of rim. It's rare that the house is utilized, but I was lucky enough to catch the female hiding out within, during a serious downpour. This is one of my favorite garden photos - she's just enchanting, peeping from the doorway:

Finally, a farewell shot - another of the fellow, again luxuriating in his water dish. The glass charm is more apparent here, and in the ambient light the toad's intricate skin is brought into full relief. These are gentle, intelligent creatures - not "cute" in the traditional sense, but rather endearing. Fed on mealworms, junebugs and flies, I expect they'll be around for a good, long time - enjoying life, and charming me, just by being exactly as nature intended them.

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