All about toads

We have about 30 species of toads hopping around the United States. They’re actually just a specific type of frog. Toads are stout-bodied and warty and can be found in a variety of habitats.

Steve Johnson is an associate professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Florida. He says if there is a toad living in your garden, consider yourself lucky.

"Toads would be good to have in your garden because they’d be a natural, biological control of pests that you might have in your garden," says Johnson. "They’ll eat beetles, I’m sure they would occasionally take a slug or a snail. They eat the invertebrates that are in the garden that are wanting to munch on your plants."

I’ve seen some really fat toads in my yard and that’s a good thing. As they balloon in size, they have a greater volume to hold onto water. This allows them to live in a wider range of habitats, and tolerate drier environments.

Toads live mostly on land, but reproduce in water. The females lay their eggs in long strings attached to vegetation. When the tadpoles become adults, they develop thickened skin and wart-like bumps that help them stay hydrated in drier conditions. Some of those bumps are glands that have secretions to make themselves unappetizing to predators.

If you pick up a toad and it pees on you – Johnson promises you will not develop warts.

"When you pick up a toad, if the toad feels startled, it may very well void its bladder as an anti-predator defense to try to startle the would-be predator. If it’s a person or maybe a dog, or cat, or raccoon, it might drop the toad being started by this little rush of water. But that’s just toad voiding its bladder of water that it has stored in it, and it will not cause warts at all," he says. "That’s a myth."