I had a big surprise in a very small package as I walked across my kitchen floor this morning. A very small toad, less than 3/4 inches long, was making his way across the floor, and I had to move very quickly to insure that my cats or puppy didn’t nab him before I could.

I was able to catch him and get him outside safely, but not before I enjoyed looking him over. Toad eyes are some of the most beautiful in the animal kingdom. They have metallic gold highlights and it seems so wonderful that such lumpy, bumpy little critters would have such beautiful eyes.

When I was a little girl of about 2 there was a really big toad that lived in a crack in the concrete near our garage, and I loved to pick him up and carry him around. I would put him back carefully and enjoy doing it again another day.

So this love of toads goes way back for me, and I am very sad that I see so few of them now. I have seen only one middle sized one this summer, and that is not good news for the species. In the past we would see many over the course of the summer.

Amphibians are indicator species, meaning their numbers or lack of signal the general condition of the environment. In many places in the world amphibian numbers, including toads and frogs, are significantly less than what they were.

Judging from how seldom I see toads and frogs in our area I would say that is true here as well. Draining of wet lands is a major contributing factor to the decline of amphibian species.

If we could look at environmental consequences of the things we do to our natural world we could go a long way toward protecting ourselves and other creatures such as little guys such as toads which are one of my favorites.