The Western Toad of the Pacific Northwest
The Western Toad can be found on all of B.C. Coastal Region where we have a large population. Adults can reach up to 14 cm in body length, excluding the hind legs. Males are usually a bit smaller than females and their skin is smother.
Adult toads have thick stocky bodies and short legs. Their knobby skin looks dry and lumpy and can range in color from pale green to red. They have pale colored bellies mottled with black and a pale green colored stripe down their backs.
Western toad eggs look like black pearls strung on a chain when you see them in the water. Tadpoles are black or very dark grey with a dark, rounded fin that runs the length of their tail. Tadpoles morph into toadlets that may be as small as 6 mm but otherwise are completely identical to the adult toads.
These toads spend much of their time underground in old mammal nests, under logs and in rock crevices along streams.
Adult western toads head to communal breeding wetlands in the early spring. The males search these areas for available females. Males mount females from behind and fertilize the eggs as the female deposits them in the water. After hatching into tadpoles, they quickly morph into toadlets.
We used to go down to the old spit road and watch the annual migration of these toads, thousands of them would cross the road at the same time, since then, this road has been removed and the land has been reclaimed by nature.
Dense groups of toadlets are often found clustered in large piles when the weather turns cool. They forage all summer long. As the weather turns cold in fall, these toads hibernate until spring.
These toads are poisonous. They have an enlarged gland behind each eye that secretes a white poison that can cause the mouth and throat to swell along with nausea, irregular heartbeat, and sometimes even death. These small toads can pose a big danger to pets like cats and dogs. People should always wash their hands after handling any toad.