The Pelican Post - Winter 2003-04

Nature's Calendar
by John Borom

 Oak Toad   

     The Oak Toad (Bufo quercicus) is the smallest toad in North America reaching sizes up to 1.3 inches. The generic name comes from the Latin for toad, bufo and the specific name is from the Latin quercinus, of oak leaves. Perhaps this is because this tiny toad looks like a dried oak leaf.

     Its skin can be blackish to silvery-gray but more typically is brownish. There is a cream-colored to orange stripe down its spine as well as four-to-five pairs of brown or black blotches on its back. It may have flecks of orange or red on its back; its belly is a cream color. This toad has a very short head, a pointed nose, and parotid glands behind the eyes shaped like tear drops.

    The Oak Toad inhabits the coastal plain from eastern Louisiana to southeastern Virginia. It is found in the southern half of Alabama. This toad is associated with sandy pine scrublands, hiding under the litter of the forest floor. In such habitats, oak trees may or may not exist. It is much more active during the day than most other kinds of toads. Because of rampant development, these well-drained uplands are among the most rapidly disappearing habitats in Baldwin County.

     Shallow semi-permanent ponds and roadside drainage ditches are used for breeding. The Oak Toad breeds from April through August, stimulated by warm heavy rains. Eggs are laid in very short strings of jelly. They may adhere to the vegetation or float on the water surface. Hatching and transformation to adult form takes two months. The tiny tadpoles are dark above and lighter below.

     The call of the Oak Toad is very high-pitched and bird-like, and similar to the peeping of a newly-hatched chick. Although males may call sporadically during the daylight hours on overcast or rainy days, the largest and most persistent choruses are heard on humid or rainy summer nights.


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