Yesterday we were hiking in Paradise Valley, and we met two boreal toads migrating from the forest towards the creek. It was a good thing that they were moving, because otherwise they're really hard to see. Today I realized that I didn't know much about toads, so I thought I should find out a bit more.
It turns out that boreal toads deserve a bit more admiration from us. They are the highest elevation amphibian in Canada, and to get through winter, they hibernate underground for up to six months, staying below the frost line. According to researchers, they mostly use the burrows of golden-mantled ground squirrels, sometimes even sharing them with the squirrels! The burrows need to be deep enough to prevent freezing, so toads will hibernate up to 1.3 m underground.
The tadpoles transform into toadlets in a couple of months, and then leave the water, which might seem weird, since we usually think of amphibians as aquatic, but boreal toads are mostly landlubbers. They eat bugs in the forest, and only come back to the ponds for breeding. They can live to be 12 years old.
One final reason to admire boreal toads: they're beautiful, in their toady kind of way.