‘Hurricane toad’ population leaping following Tropical Storm Elsa

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 4:32 PM CDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Following a fast moving, heavy rain event, some organisms hop into action when they sense that some dry areas are now submerged with water.

Some scientists are calling the eastern spadefoot toad ‘hurricane toads’ which are amphibians that reproduce specifically after a big rain event, like a hurricane. These toads have special feet to dig underground.

Steve Johnson is an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida for Wildlife Ecology. He’s received dozens of messages about these tiny toads running rampant around North Central Florida.

“We need to start out by telling people all toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads,” Johnson stated with a laugh.

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Johnson said hurricane toads aren’t the worst thing to find in your yard, although the number of them can be overwhelming. These frogs reproduce as quickly as possible with hopes that some will survive until the next big storm.

“They’re a native species of frog so you know, they should be here and they eat insects so they’re good to have around. They will get into people’s garages and sometimes into your house but it’s not going to last long. Keep your doors closed and just keep an eye out and know it’s not going to be forever,” Johnson explained.

Lesly Galiana, an Alachua County resident, found hundreds of these toads in her screened-in lanai one morning. She said they were everywhere, and thousands more were found all over her and her neighbors’ yards.

She posted photos of the toads on Facebook, and the commenters helped subside her original fear of these creatures.

“Once I started getting comments from people saying ‘they’ll go away on their own in a day or two,’ I calmed down. And they did actually, the next day my front porch looked a lot better. I think it’s neat, I’m happy they’re here, I don’t mind them at all,” Galiana said.

Johnson said these toads are harmless to people and animals. He explained that they can’t survive in dry conditions, so these hoards of frogs will have to hop to a new home, or they will dry up with the puddles.

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