Black toads don’t look all that much like traditional toads, a la the eastern American toad. They are smaller (a big one measures about two inches, snout to vent), with a narrower head, and they have few warts. They also are beautifully colored – adults are mostly jet-black above, flecked with creamy yellow, and have a thin dorsal stripe of the same color. They were easy for me to find along the margin of a ditch draining one of the springs, and I counted over 100 in 30 minutes of searching. But I found few black toads at two of the other springs where they are known to occur. My inability to find many toads at the two springs could have been due to a poor search image, or to searching in the wrong place, but I wonder. Perhaps succession and habitat loss is having a negative effect on the population – much of their breeding habitat is choked with emergent vegetation, which wasn’t the case thirty years ago – and there always is the specter of chytrid fungus. Whatever the case, I worry. For when you are exiled, there may be nowhere else to go.
Black toad, Deep Springs Valley
Black toad habitat; Deep Springs Valley in background