Dear Toad in My Front Bushes: It’s Totally Not Safe Here

I mean, dude: Did you not see that three cats live here? And cats, as I’m sure you know, love to take toads like you and do all sorts of horrible, unspeakable things with them. Starting with their intestines.

So while I’m perfectly happy to have you around, eating up bugs and look adorable in that bumpy amphibian way of yours, I really do suggest that you head off before one of the trio of obligate carnivores who reside at the house decide they want to make you a gift to us humans. I think neither you nor I want to be part of that gift-giving scenario.

All best,

JS

P.S. Seriously, man. Run.

60 thoughts on “Dear Toad in My Front Bushes: It’s Totally Not Safe Here

  1. Well, toads obviously rely on their poisonous skin to deter those annoying carnivores. But if I was that toad, I’d be more careful: what good would it be if the cats suffer from ulcers in the mouth if I was bitten and torn to pieces?

  2. Close:
    Bufotenin (also known as bufotenine), or 5-hydroxy-dimethyltryptamine (5-HO-DMT), is a tryptamine related to the neurotransmitter serotonin. It is an alkaloid found in the skin of some species of toads; in mushrooms, higher plants, and mammals.[1]
    The name bufotenin originates from the Bufo genus of toads, which includes several species of psychoactive toads (such as Bufo alvarius and Bufo marinus) that secrete bufotoxins from their parotoid glands.[2] Bufotenin is similar in chemical structure to the psychedelics psilocin (4-HO-DMT), 5-MeO-DMT, and DMT, chemicals which also occur in some of the same plant and animal species as bufotenin. Psychedelic effects of bufotenin in humans have been observed in some studies.

    So now there’s guys out there lickin’ toads and gettin’ high.

  3. I know that this is off topic, but I went to my local Barnes & Nobel yesterday after work to pick up a copy of The Windup Girl, I also bought a copy of Terry Brooks’s new Landover novel “The Princess of Landover. What do you think of that one John? I value your opinion on the subject. Also, I have started my science fiction club at the school I teach at reading Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card as their first book of the month project. I’m trying to steer them away from things like Twlight and on to good science fiction. Do you have any other suggestions? We are all waiting for next week when Stargate:Universe comes on!!!!

  4. Time to invest in a toad house. Or you can make one of your own with a terra cotta flower pot on its side and buried half way down in the soil (although I wouldn’t bet on that one outsmarting a cat paw with talons extended.)

  5. @Charles: I’m not John (obviously!) but I will chime in with the books I remember reading in Sci-Fl class in high school.

    Canticle for Leibowitz
    Foundation
    A Stranger in a Strange Land

    Although in today’s hyper-sensitive world, 1 and 3 on that list may be problematic in a school.

  6. Ghlaghghee: Dude, look! It’s, like, a toad!
    Zeus: Let’s eat it!
    Lopsided: No way, man! We could, like, lick it.
    Ghlaghghee: Lick it?
    Lopsided: Yeah, man. Supposed to get you high if you lick a toad.
    Ghlaghghee and Zeus: Cooool!
    Kodi: [Shake head] Cats. Hmmph. [Closes eyes and dreams of eating toad.]

  7. COD @ 11
    Thank you for your suggestions. You are right about the hyper-sensitive world today, espically in schools I do think that Foundation will be a good book for them to read. I don’t think I can get A Stranger in a Strange Land passed the Principal. Canticle for Leibowitz is a good book for the kids to read as well. I’m thinking of Dragonriders of Pern for the fantsay angle.

  8. Dear Man-thing,
    Thank you for your concern. Also, thank you for the compost pile. The flies you’ve attracted are lovely and carry a wonderful hint of fertilizer.

    -RIBBIT-
    Mr. Toad

  9. My Cat never did anything with toads and we had plenty. Way too many rodents and birds to mess with instead of bad tasting toads. I assume she tried them out early on, but they never showed up on the porch (unlike rabbits, birds, chipmunks, moles…)

  10. Cats and dogs learn quickly to leave toads alone. One taste is enough. Trust me, we are toad central over here, and even with two dogs and two cats, they live and breed in abundance. We get them by the hundreds all summer long. The cats bring us mice, birds, voles, shrews, never toads. The tiny baby ones are my favorite. They are about the size of crickets. When my son was about two, he caught a toad and brought it in and dropped it in my mother’s lap. Classic! They make great playmates. My only rule is no harming the toads.

  11. @Charles B.

    Assuming High School range

    Larry Niven is great for hard Sci Fi. Stick with the short stories. I love his novels but (looking back) the narrative was lacking even if the story was engaging and the science was fun. His short stories are either some odd exploration (All the Myriad Ways) or solid science mysteries; where he put the science clues out for you to put together before the reveal.

    Alan Dean Foster Flinx stuff is good. Pretty much anything by ADF that’s not a movie re-write.

    Vernor Vinge A Deepness in the Sky or A Fire Upon the Deep

    Something by Kurt Vonnegut, maybe Cat’s Cradle?

    Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott.

    Greg Bear, Blood Music

  12. When we were kids we buried many a toad in the pansy bed after our dachshund Max was finished with them. He’d worry the things to death and I remember the frothing at the mouth bit very well.

  13. Is that a real toad in an imaginary garden, or an imaginary toad in a real garden? Marianne Moore awaits your answer.

  14. Toads around here are more likely to end up as toad jerky on the road. They also have a bad habit of digging holes in the lawn (toad-in-the-hole?) and being unnoticed until run over by the lawnmower. :(

  15. Waiting for Chang who is not Chang to complain that John should be taking pictures of her Glorious Shimmering Radiant perfection or whatever.

  16. Maybe it’s the angle or the post-processing or … but that looked like a frog to me. A northern Leopard or Pickerel frog, to be more precise.

  17. Charles–you totally rock for having a sci-fi club at your school. I’d add, even though it’s fantasy, that Terry Pratchett’s books are surprisingly (well, surprising to those who haven’t read them) socially conscious. Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” is a lot of fun. Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere” (fantasy again).

    Good luck!

  18. “Oh Tom the toad, Oh Tom the toad
    Why are you lying in the road?
    You used to hop and jump about,
    Now your guts are spilling out.”

    (To to the tune of “Oh Christmas Tree”)

    Brought to you by my brother’s Cub Scout troop.

  19. Hi Charles – I strongly second Vinge’s A Deepness in the Sky. I was 23 when I read it, but I would have loved it as a teenager.

    For the fantasy angle: I always preferred the Harper Hall trilogy to the Dragonriders books, but if you can get Pullman’s His Dark Materials past your principal, I really think that The Golden Compass is an incredible book (and the controversial religion angle is less prominent in the first book), and appeals to readers on many levels. (I read and loved the first book when I was about 12, and I did my final high school English paper on existential philosophy in The Amber Spyglass.)

    None of these are what I’d call “hard” science fiction, but I also really enjoyed Steven Gould’s Helm and Jumper and David Palmer’s Emergence.

    I wish one of my teachers had done something like this in high school.

  20. Let me follow up Greg’s suggestion of the Pratchett books- social consciousness and bad puns- who could ask for anything more?

  21. Also on Pratchett books – I’d reccomend “small gods”. It’s a great read (well, they all are, but that’s one of my personal fav’s). If any touch of religious overtones would be too much for where you’re at, then the night watch books would be a good choice. Of course, Pern books are great, too. Another good McCaffrey series are the ‘Pegasus’ books. I started reading her back (waaaay back) in middle school, and still have copies on my shelf. (now worn thin by me and both my teenage boys).
    My 17 yo reccomended OS Card’s ‘The Worthing Saga’.

    “Toadsuck Ferry and Pickles Gap” *snicker/snort* Man, that got me laughing out loud!

  22. Teenagers should be required to read The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.

    Tell the cats unless they’re going to start eating slugs and snails to leave the toad alone.

  23. Dude. Toads so do not run. They hop. Or if they’re really fat, they waddle. Neither mode of locomotion is sufficient to evade a determined feline.

  24. My cats do not bother with toads. I had one that used to stalk the deer that infest the area. He never tired hard to catch one, but he did stalk them.

    From Louden Wainwight III:

    You got your dead cats and your got your dead dogs,
    On a moonlight night your got your dead toady frogs.

    (from the classic, and real, “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road”)

  25. Mr. Toad would have been less startling yesterday when I went rushing out of the back door and had to come to a quick stop. A certain Mr. Slithery was parked on my back walk. I started to walk around when he looked at me, turned around and slithered back down the side of the house. A very polite encounter.

  26. I have the same situation at my house, only it’s a little more… extreme.

    We have around seven actively hunting cats, not to mention one small dog with a taste for amphibian and reptilian flesh (He’s our local toad mauler and snake slaughterer.) And yet we have many, many toads. One night in particular stands out in my mind, as I stepped out onto the porch and was confronted by five of them. Another night, one particularly enterprising toad tried to hop into the house after me. He was rudely rebuffed, of course. Much to his dismay.

  27. Best toad related conversation since I read some Dave Barry!

    Sci-fi club at a high school! Three cheers! I think I might not be alone in recalling high school as being under the mis-appreciation that I was the only person who had re-read Heinlein’s “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” by 17 or so. Wonderful, encouraging book!

    It’s a little modern but you might find some people very much enjoying “Halting State” by Charles Stross it does a wonder job of being very plausible in the future-it might also cross read well to young video gamers. It reminds me of Scott Westerfield YA which you might also want to consider, particularly his Uglies series. Good luck with your club!

  28. Chiming in on the Foster recs. His stuff makes for a very good entry into the genre (worked for me at 11!) You can start with some of his standalone stuff, and then get into Flinx and the Commonwealth. The Spellsinger books are also silly fun.

  29. Motivation is the key. If you see her/him again, casually mention that there is a wet sprocket which just opened over there [points] ought to get results.

  30. SF recommendations for high schoolers? Our host’s books, of course!

    Iain M. Banks’ “The Algebraist”.

    John Steakley’s “Armour”.

    There are so very many.

    Run, Frog!

  31. For fantasy novels- a newer writer, Justine Larbalestier. Also, Robin McKinley. Outlaws of Sherwood, her Robin Hood story, is a great version with couple of nice twists along the way.

  32. I saw a toad looking just like that one in the front yard last week. My husband was not impressed when I called him away from some computer thing to look at it. It didn’t move even though my dog was six feet away. I wish I’d a picture. Also have you read Mary Doria Russell’s “The Sparrow”?

  33. I went to Beavercreek High School, (class of ’74 – 35 year reunion this weekend!) which is fairly close to Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio.

    We had a Science Fiction Literature class. (really! back in the day!). One of the books we read as a class was On The Beach, by Nevil Shute.

    Wright Patt was a SAC base, back-in-the-day, and we all knew was on the to-be-bombed list in the event of a nuclear war. On The Beach sparked some interesting classroom conversation, especially among the air force kids.

  34. Thank you all for your suggestions for books that my science fiction club kids should read!!! They are wounderful. I have 32 students in the West Jefferson High School Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Club. We have a science fiction class taught by the English Dept., but I’m certified for social studies and suggest things for the SF teacher to cover. I took the first SF class at West Jeff when I was a student here (1976) and I wanted to impart my love for science fiction to a new group of students that I teach. Thanks again for all of your great ideas.

  35. On the issue of evolution, shouldn’t toads be evolving claws and fangs to help protect them from those dastardly cats? I am now going to have nightmares about gigantic, fanged and clawed toads, leaping great distances to bring down their prey.

  36. Although I’m surely on your side when it comes to the toad’s well-being, I doubt he’ll understand where you’re coming from. To this toad, you are a large manipulative human being capable of far worse. Good luck sending him on his way!

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