I heard a scuffle out in my garden. The moon being close to full, I could see quite clearly though it was well past my dinner time. Stepping out, I found that our pet cat Tiger was playing with some creature in the garden. Getting closer, I realised that she had cornered a toad. Each time she approached the toad hopped in an effort to get away. And each time the toad jumped, Tiger jumped too, in fright! I did not know who was more scared, Tiger or the toad. I watched this game for a few minutes before shooing Tiger away.
I watched the toad hop away to relative safety. The creature I was watching was the Common Indian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus). It is probably the most common amphibian throughout India, seen in urban and rural landscapes. The toads often enter homes (especially young toads), and are found quite a distance away from water. While most amphibians are active only during the rainy season, toads are likely to be found almost throughout the year, especially in the warmer climes of south India.
Toads are very versatile and can live in all kinds of habitats. In order to breed, they need water, but even a small puddle on the ground will serve as a potential site for them to lay their eggs. While toads are mostly brown, during the breeding season, they can be yellow or even red. Male toads call loudly during the breeding season; they have vocal sacs on their throats, which they blow up like balloons when they call.
On many occasions, I have been asked how do you tell a toad from a frog? Toads generally have many black-tipped conical warts. These warts are on its body and legs. In the picture here, you can see two rows of black-tipped warts down the back of the toad. Most toads have prominent parotid glands. These glands are large oval shaped swellings just behind the eyes.
If you were to pick up an adult toad, it is likely that you will come away with very smelly hands, which may itch as well. In order to protect themselves, toads produce toxins in their parotid glands, which make them very distasteful to predators. If Tiger had tried to eat the toad, it’s likely that she would have been brushing her teeth for many days to get rid of the nasty taste in her mouth!