Here in My Florida Backyard, one of our favorite things about finding a new visitor is determining just what that visitor might be. We know all the wading birds by sight, but new song birds and migrating water birds send us running for the Sibley Guide to Birds. Each new butterfly prompts a frantic search through Florida's Fabulous Butterflies & Moths. Our National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida is a constant companion at home and abroad, and we treasure our copy of the out-of-print Florida: Ecotravellers Wildlife Guide.
But every once in awhile something comes along that stumps us, and quite frankly - that drives us crazy! While out mowing the lawn this morning (with the reel mower, of course!), we discovered this little guy:
He was just hanging out in the little bit of grass we have in our front yard, and jumped out of the way as the mower approached. He was about an inch long, and due to his bumpy rather than smooth skin, I assumed he must be a kind of toad. Out came Florida's Fabulous Reptiles & Amphibians. Then the Ecotravellers Guide and the Audubon Guide. Then there was an exhaustive web search.
Ultimately, we decided - we just don't know. He could be a small Southern Toad, but it doesn't seem to quite match the pictures we saw. He somewhat resembles the invasive Marine Toad (also known as the Cane or Giant Toad), but he's far too small, unless he's a baby.
Whatever he is (and we will find out!), I was glad to see him. Frogs and toads are indicators of a healthy ecosystem (unless it's that darn invasive cane toad) and I'm happy to have them around. We even have a few "toad houses" scattered around the property:
These are very easy to make, although you can buy them ready-made and whimsical if you prefer. These provide shelter for toads from the hot sun and from predators.
So, I'm glad to find amphibians hanging around My Florida Backyard (well, front yard, but you get the point). Now if I could just figure out what the heck this little one is!