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A Day in the Life of Miranda Toad:
Pg 3-The Feet of a Female

Laura looked at Miranda's feet to tell she was a female! Female toads are larger than males, but male toads have thicker, stronger feet. This helps the males to hang onto the females' backs while they are mating. Their eggs must be laid in water, and without strong feet, the male might slide right off the slippery female.
Look at the big brown bumps on Miranda's neck, just behind her eyes. Those are the parotoid glands. Toads are slower hoppers than frogs, and have no teeth or claws to defend themselves. But they're safe from many predators thanks to those parotoid glands. When toads are in danger, a special poison oozes out of the parotoid glands. It tastes horrible, and irritates eyes and mouths. If a predator such as a coyote or bobcat picks up a toad with its mouth, the yucky-tasting poison will make it spit out the toad, often before the toad is seriously injured. One predator, the Hog-nosed Snake, isn't bothered by the parotoid gland poison. That is why the Hog-nosed Snake is one of the toad's primary enemies.

When people handle toads, it's a good idea to wash our hands when we're done, just in case any of the gland secretions have gotten on our hands. It's a good idea to wash our hands BEFORE we handle a toad or frog, too, or at least to dip them in water, so the oils on our human skin can't cause skin problems for the toad or frog. It's a myth that handing toads causes warts. But human hands can cause skin problems for some amphibians and fish.

On the previous page, we asked if you think toads have better vision for things that are close up or far away. A toad's sharpest vision is probably in the area within a few feet of it. But it's important to be aware of things farther away, in order to escape from hungry predators.

We also asked if you think this toad's eyes had anything to do with Laura naming her Miranda. The name Miranda was created by William Shakespeare for the heroine of his play, The Tempest. The Latin word mirer means "to look at," and the Latin word mirus means "wonderful."

On Page 4, we'll see what Miranda does when she notices danger.

A Day in the Life of Miranda Toad.
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