Tuesday, August 4, 2015

An American Toad visits the pond...

Another amphibian decided to visit our tiny backyard pond. This time, an American Toad dropped in. He stayed around for a few days and then moved on...

American Toad...warts and all.
An American Toad is curmudgeonly cute...and very "warty bliggens!"

The warts on a toad aren't warts at all. They are tiny glands that secrete a liquid toxin that burns the lining of a predator's mouth. The large bumps behind the toad's eyes are Parotoid Glands, and they can dump a lot of toxin at once. The toxin won't hurt humans, but if it's on your hands, and you rub your eyes, your eyes will burn and water.

American Toads look a lot like Fowler's Toads. For a previous post I did on Fowler's Toads, and to learn how to tell them apart from American Toads, click here.

American Toads are not huge...this fella was about three inches long. They do have a long lifespan, however. I read in "Ohio's Amphibians," by Guy Denny, that American Toads can live to be 30 years old! 

The white stripe running down his back is striking...

Who is warty bliggens? 
"warty bliggens" lives in the world of "archy and mehitabel," by Don Marquis. archy is a cockroach from a newspaper office in 1930s New York. He believes in reincarnation and claims to have been a "vers libre bard" in a previous life. At night, he expresses himself by jumping from key to key on a typewriter and writing about life and the universe. Since he's a cockroach, he can't hold down the shift key, so his poems are all written in lower case and without punctuation. His friends are mehitabel the alley cat and warty bliggens the toad. This is warty's story:

warty bliggens the toad

i met a toad
the other day by the name
of warty bliggens
he was sitting under
a toadstool
feeling contented
he explained that when the cosmos
was created
that toadstool was especially
planned for his personal
shelter from sun and rain
thought out and prepared
for him

do not tell me
said warty bliggens
that there is not a purpose
in the universe
the thought is blasphemy

a little more
conversation revealed
that warty bliggens
considers himself to be
the center of the same universe
the earth exists
to grow toadstools for him
to sit under
the sun to give him light
by day and the moon
and wheeling constellations
to make beautiful
the night for the sake of
warty bliggens

to what act of yours
do you impute
this interest on the part
of the creator
of the universe
i asked him
why is it that you
are so greatly favored

ask rather
said warty bliggens
what the universe
has done to deserve me

if i were a human being i would
not laugh
too complacently
at poor warty bliggens
for similar
have only too often
lodged in the crinkles
of the human cerebrum


by Don Marquis (1878-1937)
from "Archy and Mehitabel"

 For an introduction by E. B. White on "The Lives and Times of Archy and Mehitabel, by Don Marquis," click here.


Rohrerbot said...

Very nice photos up close on this critter. Thanks for the diagram to point out the various field marks. I haven't seen one of these guys in years!

Sue said...

Kelly-I think "curmudgeonly cute" describes him to a tee! Loved the close-ups!

Rick Forrestal said...

I think I know this toad!

(Wonderful post. Thanks for the info.)

sandy said...

great post - love the photos - ...he looks so grouchy... and the story.

Kelly said...

@Chris - Thanks, Chris. I hope he comes back to the pond. I know he's still around, but I think he's living in the tangle of weeds I've let grown around a weeping willow tree.

@Sue - hahaha...thanks, Sue! That's the only thing that popped to mind when I saw that photo.

@Rick - hahaha...I bet you do! I've seen his face in lots of humans. Thanks, Rick!

@Sandy - Thanks, Sandy. I loved the poem as well...it so captures a cockroach typing out his impressions of a toad!!

The Equestrian Vagabond said...

what great timing that you posted this - I was just about to do a post on a visiting toad, and I wasn't sure it was an American Toad. now I know it is! thanks! they are just plain cute. In a warty kinda way.
- The Equestrian Vagabond

Mary Ann Gieszelmann said...

I loved the poem! -- especially the part that says "similar absurdities have only too often lodged in the crinkles of the human cerebrum."

Kelly said...

@Equestrian - haha! Perfect timing! and yes....I agree....cute in a warty kind of way! :-)

@Mary Ann - that was my favorite part too......so true.