The life cycle of a
toad involves several stages. Typically adult toads gather in
suitable pools, the first to arive usually being the males. Their
croaking may well encourage the females to arrive. A female would
wish to avoid arriving at a pond which did not have any males
in attendance. Gravid female toads are actively and persistently
sought out by males and many males will often try to attach themselves
to a single female. This can result in very large masses of toads
all clinging to each other with one female at the centre. Such
agglomerations of toads can be the size of a soccer ball. Eventually
one male will secure solitary possession. Amplexus is the process
wherein the male grasps the female while she lays her eggs. At
the same time, he fertilizes them with a fluid containing sperm.
The eggs are
about 2.0 to 2.8 millimetres in diameter and are dark brown and
are covered in an outer shell of gelatinous transparent aterioal
which swells in contact with water. The eggs, known as toadspawn
hatch into tadpoles or toadpoles. Toads lay their eggs in long
strings, forming double files in straight, jelly-like tubes. The
tadpole stage develops gradually into an adolescent toadlet, resembling
an adult but retaining a vestigial tail. Finally the toadlet develops
into an adult toad. Typically, tadpoles are herbivores, feeding
mostly on algae, whereas juvenile and adult toads are carnivores.
Most temperate species of toad reproduce in the period between
late autumn to early spring.
Images 1 Through
6 Are From The US Fish & Wildlife Service
Images 7 Through 10 Are Courtesy Of The U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Image Number 11 Is Courtesy OF THe USFish & Wildlife Service
Image Number 12 Comes From The U.S.D.A.