If you have a living water feature, you may be hearing, and even seeing, an increase in frog and/or toad activity now that it's Spring. And you'll probably be seeing egg sacks and tadpoles a little later on, as well.
We are lucky enough to have endangered Lowland Leopard Frogs on our property, which migrated here during a particularly heavy monsoon season about 17 years ago from the Agua Fria River bottom that we live next to. Because they’re endangered, it is illegal to transport them without a special permit from the State. This species has declined in abundance and distribution across its range in the United States, so Arizona Game & Fish keeps a tight rein on it. They make a delightful purring-type sound, and are actually fairly shy about showing themselves. But it's a wonderful sound to fall asleep to!
What most people have in and around their yards are Sonoran Desert Toads, which are the largest western species of toad, and considered to be one of the more aquatic of the southwestern toads. They dig into the dirt and hibernate during the dry times to avoid desiccation, and then come hopping out during wet and humid seasons. Desert toads make a distinctive sound, like a child’s short screech, and some people find this rather annoying. If you’re one of them, don’t sweat it, the toad season, which is typically during the monsoon season, doesn’t last long, and they’ll be dug back into their hidey holes as soon as it dries out again.
Yes, these are the ones whose skin toxins are strong enough to kill a dog, and reportedly have hallucinogenic qualities. Toad licking -- yuk! Our yard dog (a Blue Pitbull) gets ahold of one on occasion, and actually likes them. It doesn't kill her, and we can always tell when she's imbibed because she wanders around looked stoned for awhile, with one ear flopped over and stumbling around a bit.
One amphibian you DO NOT want around is the Bull Frog. They eat native wildlife species like birds, small mammals, dragonflies, butterflies, lizards, frogs, turtles, AND your fish – pretty much anything smaller than them that they can catch. We’ve even seen a photo of one with a bat wing sticking out of its mouth. They are prolific reproducers, considered highly invasive, and can travel 8 miles in one season to seek a new habitat. Their sound is VERY loud and annoying, and even your neighbors will know you have one around. If so, get rid of it – permanently. And if you’re the adventurous type, this is the species used for culinary frogs legs.
For more information on various amphibians in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov.