Robert C. Stebbins Dies

Robert C. Stebbins Dies at 98

Robert StebbinsBest known for A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, a book I find indispensable, Robert Stebbins was a renown specialist who believed that direct observation of nature out-of-doors was as important as laboratory research. He was also concerned for the welfare of his subjects.  He recognized that amphibian and reptile decline was a symptom of rampant human population growth.

Interest in wildlife preservation cannot be separated from concern with efforts to limit human population growth (Robert C. Stebbins, 1966:  21).

Read more about Stebbins here.

Stebbins, Robert C.  1966.  A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians.  Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 279 p.

Wildlife Rescue in Arizona

Wildlife Rescue in Arizona

Great Horned Owl chicks

Great Horned Owl chicks

“Baby animals you see are probably not orphans; parents are usually nearby.”

Wildlife Rescue in Arizona is licensed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.  Visit the AZGFD website for a list with contact information and taxa treated.  A second list includes other animal charities in Arizona.  Find more information from local veterinarians and animal control departments of local governments.

These organizations provide additional information:

Jack is Back! #amphibians

Jack, a One-Eyed Rocky Mountain Toad

A few months ago, I blogged about the human devastation of the world’s amphibians.  In that post, I mentioned a one-eyed Rocky Mountain toad that for several years had appeared at my back door at the start of the summer monsoon.  I am pleased to report that Jack, the name I gave the toad, is back.  Toads are generally long lived, from a few years to near 40 years.  I haven’t found longevity stats for Jack’s subspecies, but he is at least four years old.

Before Roly Polie Feast

One-Eyed Rocky Mountain Toad Before Roly Polies

After Roly Polie Feast

One-Eyed Rocky Mountain Toad After Roly Polie Feast

When I first spotted Jack yesterday, the poor creature was shriveled and its back was contorted.  But after an hour-long roly polie feast, he plumped up and looked perfectly normal (except for the missing eye).  Click the photos for larger views.

Or Is It Jill?

Jack wasn’t around this afternoon.  He probably went down to the pond to try to socialize a bit.  As I type this, however, and look at Jack’s pale throat, I wonder if the name should be Jill.  Have to check that throat after the pond tour.  During mating season, throats of the males are darker than the females.

I am glad Jack and the other toads are here.  They help control the annual monsoon earwig and mosquito explosion.  Our local toads, wrens, and thrushes provide ground support for our aerial defenders, the dragonflies, hummingbirds, swallows, whippoorwills, and bats.  Though we have big swampy ponds near (200 feet) the house, the few mosquitoes that survive the fish, dragonfly larvae, other aquatic predators, rarely penetrate our aerial defenses, and if they do reach the house, they meet the toads.  If they pass the toads, they encounter the spiders.  Every doorway, window, and room has carefully monitored spider webs.

July 1, 2014.  Jill hasn’t appeared yet.

Colorado River Toad.

Back to the Arizona amphibian update.

Colorado River Toad aka Sonoran Desert Toad

Colorado River Toad (CRT) aka Sonoran Desert Toad

Colorado River Toad at Coldwater Farm

Colorado River Toad at Coldwater Farm

This giant toad appeared by my back step yesterday, May 13, 2013, and remained all day, moving only once in the afternoon to stay in the shade.  This is the first of these toads I have seen here, though it is obvious that this individual has been here gobbling insects and growing for at least two years.

July 1, 2014:  Haven’t yet seen the CRT.

 The California River Toad (CRT) (Bufo alvarius a.k.a. Ollotis alvariaare and Incillius alvarius) or Sonoran Desert Toad lives in southern Arizona and desert areas of New Mexico.  It formerly lived in southeastern California.  Above the desert, CRT is found near streams and lakes. My place in central Arizona is near the species’ northern limit.

At seven and one half inches long, CRTs are the largest native toads of the U. S.  This one is about five inches (and almost as wide ;-).

These toads are primarily nocturnal.  They are not as visible or noisy as the Rocky Mountain Toads that live in my yard.  Though I did not know they were here, the CRTs are probably an important reason that I have no insect problems despite the lawns around the house and the large stock ponds only a few hundred feet away.

This chubby amphibian has powerful defense toxins.  Glands on its sides, back, and legs produce the toxins.  Predators absorb the toxins through their nose, eyes, and mouth.  Dogs that mouth one of these toads can become paralyzed.  The toxin is hallucinogenic, and several states have classified it as a controlled substance.  Perhaps “toad lickers” are partially responsible for the toad’s decline.

 The CRT eats anything it can catch and fit in its mouth, even small mice.  It can enter homes through pet doors.  A welcome visitor, the toad will roam about eliminating household pests while providing amphibian decor unique to the Southwest.  I haven’t had this good fortune yet, but I am optimistic.

 The CRT has disappeared from its former range in California, and is declining in Arizona and New Mexico.  It is a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act.  A google search will provide more information.

One-eyed Rocky Mountain Toad.

Back to the Arizona Amphibian Update.