If there are children in the room you might want to send them out for this video (tic). As spring comes to the summit valley the wildlife is doing their best to carry on the species. This week I tramped around the edges of the back bay at Van Norden Lake looking for one of its well know amphibian residents, the Western Toad. Adult Western Toads burrow into the lake bottom in the fall and spend the winter hibernating under the lake bottom. As soon as the snow melts they dig themselves out and immediately start looking for a mate. The males are 6-11 cm in size and are much smaller than the females who are 12.5 cm or larger. As you will see in the video, the “act” is an ongoing affair in which the male grabs on to the female and hangs on for dear life. Careful voyeurs will notice that every few minutes the female discharges her string of eggs which the male fertilizes as they come out. There are probably hundreds of females in the wetlands around the lake and each female lays thousands of eggs. That is why when you walk through the meadow in mid summer, the ground seems to move with the hundreds of thousands of young toads hopping around.
If you listen closely you will the hear female “chirp”. Western Toads do not croak like our local Pacific Tree Frogs.
Not to beat the drum too hard here, but Van Norden Lake and it’s surrounding wetlands provide some of the richest habitat for the Western Toad. With the worldwide recession in amphibian populations, the Summit Valley is a refuge for the thriving population of toads. This is just another of many reasons why removal of this special habitat and thus the severe reduction in Western Toads would be a serious blow to the bio-diversity of the valley. Just sayin!