From: Megan Drake, Care2, More from this Affiliate
Published February 24, 2014 09:24 AM

Why did the toad cross the road?

Have you given any thoughts to toads lately?  They may not be the first creature that comes to mind when considering animal advocacy.  Indeed, the mating ritual of amphibians is not usually a concern because most toads manage to travel from their wooded habitats to a body of water for mating all by themselves and without human intervention.

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Occasionally there are groups of toads that discover they need to cross dangerous roadways to get to their mating grounds.  Such is the case on the outskirts of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where every spring thousands of toads cross a rural road near the Roxborough Reservoir.

In 2009, Lisa Levinson, a local resident discovered the plight of Philadelphia's toads and started a mission to help save them from traffic.  When she realized the moving leaves she spotted on the road were actually toads, she stopped her car and tried to get traffic to slow down for the crossings. Sadly, she noticed many of the toads had been run over by cars. Eventually a police officer parked her vehicle and assisted Levinson with her mission.

Realizing this job was going to last more than a day or two, Levinson set about making plans for an ongoing project.  She contacted local advocacy groups and the Philadelphia Police 5th District to get permits allowing volunteers to shut down traffic in order to help toads cross the road.  That first year Levinson reported they saved about 600 toads.

How Toads Mate

Toads are not fans of sunlight and they travel mostly at night and in damp, rainy weather. In the spring, from about March through June, toads return to a water source where the females lay eggs in shallow water and the males fertilize them. After several weeks, the toadlets —which are the size of a human thumbnail—return to the woods from which their parents came.

The females are larger than the males and males can be seen hitching a ride on the backs of the females. Like all animals, toads have their own unique place in the ecosystem.  The toad diet consists of worms; insects like crickets, spiders and mosquitos; leaves and sometimes birds, mice and rats.  Helping to control the mosquito population makes toads necessary to keep around.

Read more at Care2.

Toad image via Shutterstock.

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