16. Toad’s tool

Forget playground jokes about how the fairy became pregnant. This is a serious post.

Toad’s Tool is the first, and only, graphically oriented Super Mario 64 level editor. Does that mean anything to you? Me neither.

An acclaimed scientific journal claims that ‘mankind has hankered after a tool that can detect impending seismic activity’. It seems the common toad (Bufo bufo to you) could fit the bill. The evidence comes from a population of toads which left their breeding colony three days before an earthquake that struck L’Aquila in Italy in 2009 (BBC report).

Why write about toads, which are abhorrent to some of you, in a way that frogs are not? After all, frogs’ legs are a delicacy here (for some). Haven’t seen toads’ legs on a menu in France though. A man did die from poisoning after eating toads he had mistaken for edible bullfrogs. You can make frog soup according to the Google recipes , but, if in doubt, avoid! Those that know about these matters tell me that, technically, toads are a classification of frog. An apostrophe slipped into the title where it shouldn’t have so you’ll have to wait for the next post about toadstools (and mushrooms).

Toads deserve a more sympathetic press. Attracting them into your garden is a natural way of reducing your pest population. They live exclusively on insects, so encourage them. Autumn can be a hazardous time for them. Leaves are falling by the barrowful in our garden and have to be cleared. Raking a pile that had blown into a corner disturbed a toad which presumably thought that there was a safe place to shelter from the winter. It was picked up carefully and given a safer home. It had a dry, bumpy skin unlike the occasional frogs we see.

In the warmer days of spring we can hear them calling to each other. One evening we disturbed a toad carrying eggs on its back. It’s the male that has this job apparently.

Our Australian family tell us that not all toads are universally appreciated. Cane toads were brought to Australia from Hawaii with the intention of controlling the cane beetle in the sugar plantations in north Queensland. The beetles live high up on the upper stalks of the plant. The toads can’t jump that far so…… it was a wasted exercise. Scientists estimate that there are more than 200 million of them hopping around Australia causing havoc to the ecosystem. (Fact: Female toads can lay up to 30,000 eggs, twice a year!)

Did you read Wind in the Willows when you were young? If so, you could not forget Mr. Toad of Toad Hall, a character lacking in even the most basic common sense and with a reckless interest in cars.

Next post: 17. Phallus impudicus

Published by Down Under diary

Down Under diary

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