This morning, while we were all escorting Marie to the side gate and her departure for work, I encountered a good-sized toad: about the size of a tennis ball. I encouraged it to leave, it refused. Toads can be kind of pig-headed. To keep the dogs away from it I created a shelter by leaning a board against the fence it sat next to. I didn’t want the dogs to take an unhealthy interest in it, and maybe the roof would encourage it to go through the chain-link and up into the grass.
We saw Marie off. I headed into the garden to see what needed to be picked this morning. The dogs were wandering around the play yard.
As I was finishing up and heading into the house, Kathy trotted by smacking her mouth, which was dripping white froth. I had forgotten about Mr. Toad. Toads have a defensive mechanism of secreting a foul tasting liquid that can in some species of toads be highly toxic to dogs. I know the giant Bufo toad (Colorado River Toad) is extremely poisonous, often killing dogs in 15 minutes after mouthing one. Those are not native here in Tennessee, but Kathy is a pretty little gal, I’d best be sure she’s not in danger. I found Mr. Toad near where I’d left him, upside down with legs tucked in tight against his sides. He looked dead, but that could be a ruse.
I took Kathy inside (Blondie and Cochise came in as well) and wiped her mouth off, then used a wet paper towel to repeatedly rinse off her gums and tongue. She did not like this much. Then I looked up what the symptoms were and identified the toad in question.
As I suspected, Mr. Toad is an Eastern American Toad. Mildly toxic.
PetMD.com had this to say about toad toxicity symptoms:
Symptoms usually appear within a few seconds of the toad encounter and may include the following:
- Crying or other vocalization
- Pawing at the mouth and/or eyes
- Profuse drooling of saliva from the mouth
- Change in the color of membranes of the mouth – may be inflamed or pale
- Difficulty in breathing
- Unsteady movements
- High temperature
Other than the white froth around her mouth and the “Yech, yech, that tastes terrible” mouthing, she shows no symptoms. I’m watching her closely (with Nurse Blondie’s help) for a while but in the past 20 minutes she seems to be doing fine.
I took a plastic bag out to pick up the toad carcass. Mr. Toad was sitting upright, right where I left him, looking quite smug, “I guess I showed that dog!” I used the plastic bag like a glove to pick up Mr. Toad and give him a good heave up into the tall grass and brush well above our fence line. Better hunting up there anyway, I suspect.
Normally I make the small toads who inhabit the garden welcome. They eat bugs. I respect that. But when they get a bad attitude with me I’ll evict them. Especially if they threaten my dogs: that don’t fly here … but attitudinal toads do!
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