I was walking in the Chicago Botanical Gardens with my spiritual advisor, Mindy the Pagan Hairdresser, when we spotted something that looked like crickets hopping across the gravel path. When we bent closer to look, however, we saw some extremely small toads. Here’s how small they were.
According to Prof. Chris Phillips, Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles at the Illinois Natural History Survey, these are newly metamorphosed toads, probably American toads. I was delighted to learn this. American toads are my favorite singers among the amphibean world, and I’m a major fan of toadsong. These little toads can live up to thirty years. Think of it. That’s longer than Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix. But listen to this—
Eventually of course they will grow up to be big boys and girls and partake in Spring rituals. American Toads are not monogamous. This is an understatement. Last Spring I was lucky enough to hear the awesome chorus of male toads singing to their ladies, and followed the sound to a very small pond. (For best results, click on all of those links, one right after another, so that they all play at once!)
At first I couldn’t see any singers. I’d brought field glasses, however, and was able to spot hundreds of these small toads frolicking in the open. The frenzy of their group grope impressed me.
Here’s a whole page of awesome toad mating videos, including more deafening trilling of hundreds of horny toads and lots of T-rated footage.
And, although I am no casual endorser of products, here’s a recording made by a guy named Lang Elliott of American toads (foreground) with chorus frogs in the background, a bit of thunder, and rain. He has a whole hour of it, but you can sample about five minutes’ worth. I’m tempted to shell out for the hour. ZOMG. Talk about soothing.