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Toad

toads, family, toad-flax, plant, leaves, food, air, name, animals and green

TOAD, an amphibian of the anourous family Bufonidce or some related family in the series Arcifera, in allusion to the structure of the shoulder girdle. The Bufonida, present the following distinctive features: The tongue is well developed, fixed to the front of the mouth, and has the hind end free. The result of this arrangement is that it can be filliped by means of appropriate muscles with the greatest speed and precision, and thus serves these usually totally toothless animals in the capture of in sects which adhere to this mucous-coated organ. Teeth are always absent from the jaws, but may be present on the vomer in a few foreign gen era. The hind toes are more or less webbed, the front toes webless and the ends of thc toes are neither clawed nor furnished with adhesive discs. In all cases the vertebrx are proccelous or have their bodies hollowed in front, the transverse processes of the sacrum are ex panded and ribs are absent. This family is an extensive one of about 15 genera and 100 species and is cosmopolitan, but is especially well rep resented in tropical America. The species differ considerably in habits, most of them being ter restrial burrowers, but some are aquatic, others arboreal.

Within the United States, Bufo is the only genus, being represented by 9 or 10 species, most of which belong to the southwestern United States and Mexico. The common east ern toad (B. lentiginosus) is found in one or cther of its sub-species throughout the eastern United States and Canada. The familiar roughness and wartiness of the skin of toads is due to the presence of glands and, especially on the head; to bony deposits. They are chiefly terrestrial and nocturnal, and feed upon in sects of which they destroy large numbers. Toads visit the water in March or April, their breeding season, for the purpose of depositing their eggs, which are in long strings and are fertilized by the male upon their extrusion. During the mating season the males are very noisy at night and so pugnacious that they sometimes kill one another in'their encounters. Development takes place rapidly and the tad pole-stage is passed in three or four months, when the young toads leave the water in mul titudes. The popular repugnance to these per fectly harmless animals has no doubt arisen from their unprepossessing aspect and outward appearance. No venom or poison apparatus of any kind exists in these creatures; and save that the secretions of the skin may be of acrid or irritant nature when, brought contact with , cut or exposed .surfaces, they are utterly harm less to man. There is a swelling above the eyes covered with pores and large, thick and prominent enlargements behind the eyes which secrete an acrid fluid, which protects these anitnals from the attack of carnivorous roam— mals. They also swell up with ,air when at tacked by snakes. When handled, toads fre quently eject urine from.the vent, but the wide spread belief that the contact of this fluid with the skin produces warts is utterly un founded. Toads are extremely tenacious of life and can exist a long time without food; their hibernation in mud, cracks and holes has prob ably given rise to the stories of their being, found in places where they must have existed' for centunes without food and air. These stories, however, have no foundation in fact, for Dr. Buckland proved, by direct experiment,

that no toad can live for two -years if deprived of food and air. Another common belief that toads are often rained down is -probably to be explained by the fact that great numbers of young toads frequently leave, during showers of rain, the vicinity of pools in which their larval' life was spent. Toads are really extremely interesting animals, and much entertainment can be derived from their observation.

Atnong foreign toads are the great Bufo agua, large enough to fill a quart measure,' of the West Indies and South America; the green toad (B. viridis) of Europe, noted for its change of color; the long-tongued toad (Rhino phrynus dorsalis) of Mexico, which feeds on termites; the European fire-toad (Bombinator igneus), so called from its brilliant red under parts and belonging to the family Discoglos sidcr; arid the remarkable Surinam toads, which are tongueless and carry the young in little cavities on the back. The last belongs to the distinct family Pipide. The spade-foot toad (q.v.) and the tree-toads or tree-f.rogs (q.v.) belong respectively to the families Scaphiopida and Hylidce. Many of the toads have remark able and interesting breeding habits, for ac counts of which reference must be made to works of herpetology. Consult Boulanger, E.: G., 'Reptiles and Batrachians' (New York 1914); Cope, E. D., (Batrachia of North Amer ica' (Washington 1889) ; Boulenger, G. A., (Tailless Betrachia) (London 1892); Dicker son, M. C., (The Frog Book' (New York 1914); Gadow, (Amphibia and Reptiles' (New York and London 1901); Kirkland, (Habits, Food arid Economic Value of the American Toad' (in Bull. 6, Hatch Exper. Sta., Amherst,' Mass. 1897); Sampson, 'American Naturalist' (19005.

a conunon roadside weed (Linanct fluorin) belonging to the family Scrophulariacece. It somewhat resembles a snap-dragon, but is smooth and has many linear leaves, either alternate or opposite and vertic illate on the lower portions of the stern, and very pale green. The stem is prolonged by a terminal bracted densely flowered raceme. The blossoms are pale yellow with a short spur, a two-lipped corolla, the lower lip spreading and three-lobed, with a base so enlarged as nearly to close the throat with 'an orange-colored palate. This combination of orange and yellow has given rise to the name abutter-and-eggs.p It is also called ramstead. The plant has been naturalized from Europe and is rather pretty, but it is very tenacious and very difficult to eradicate.

A native toad-flax is L. canadensis, a slender plant, with blue flowers and with a tendency toward oppositeness. The Kenilworth ivy (Cymbalaria cymbalaria) is also called ivy leafed toad-flax and is a glabrous trailing peren nial, with reniform-orbicular leaves and bluish flowers. L. triornithophora, a European plant, is peculiar for its pqrple, long-spurred flowers blooming in whorls of three and resembling birds, which has suggested the Latin name, athree-birdsp toad-flax. The American bastard toad-flax (Comandra umbellata) is a delicate, pale green, smooth plant of the sandal-wood family, with greenish white or purplish, cam panulate corollas and oblong leaves quite unlike the Linaria. In England Thesium linophyllum, with leaves like those of toad-flax, is known by the same name as Comandra,