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All toads on deck! July 8, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in critters.
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Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood were relaxing on our deck the evening of July Fourth with our beloved black German shepherd Shiloh. The chili lights were on, the lightning bugs (aka fireflies) were putting on their own fireworks in the backyard, we were each enjoying our beverage of choice while listening to the whir of fireworks in neighboring communities. Life was good.

But it was about to get better. Suddenly, I saw a small creature hopping along the side of the deck. “Silence, look! It’s a toad! A toad is on our deck!!!” The toad, obviously an Einstein among amphibians, hopped determinedly to the lowest-hanging chili light on the deck, and then stopped. It clearly realized that lights draw bugs, and, for a toad, bugs mean dinner. It could easily reach any bug that came within the low-lying light’s orbit.

Silence and I are amateur herpetologists, so we love reptiles and amphibians. I kept toads as pets as a child, and they proved surprisingly loyal friends, believe it or not. But there was a more important reason why I was so happy to see the toad.

Amphibians like toads, frogs and salamanders are environmental first-responders. If something’s amiss in the environment, they seem to have the fewest defenses to combat it, and are the first creatures whose populations drop in response. To see this healthy, entrepreneurial toad on our deck was reassuring. And, of course, we hope it ate a Big Mac-size portion of mosquitos!

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