A Red Spotted Toad Predator 5/18/12
One evening we set out on a hike to look for snakes in the rock outcrops near a desert arroyo. The nearby desert spring was full which draws special attention since the water tends to draw in new and interesting critters during the night. Looking into the spring, I immediately noticed a Giant Water Bug and upon a closer look I noticed it had a Red Spotted toad in it’s grasp! The water was extremely clear and so I was able to capture a few photos. At first the toad looked as if he were already dead but after some time I realized he was still alive. Giant Water Bugs are ambush predators. Sitting in the water motionless they wait for large prey to swim by and then they attack! Using their claw front legs they grasp their prey while they inject immobilizing enzymes which also breaks down the prey’s tissues so that the giant water bug can ingest them. I told Dr. Mata-Silva what I had seen and at first he could only see the Giant Water Bug since the toad camouflaged perfectly against the sand. When he realized what I had seen, he joined my excitement. He later went on to publish the sighting which you can view here: MataSilva_etal_2012_A_punctatus_predation.
An Old C. atrox 9/21/12
I joined a fellow naturalist on a birding survey when I walked past this guy, perfectly nestled in the gravel of an arroyo that joined a nearby desert spring. As we did with all snakes we came across in the area, we took him back to the lab for the ongoing rattlesnake tracking project led by Dr. Mata-Silva. Many rattlesnakes are new captures and require a pit-tag before being released again. Occasionally the rattlesnakes we come across were re-captures which can be determined by the presence of a tag. This individual was one of them. Ordinarily this isn’t anything to get super excited about except when Dr. Mata-Silva reviewed past documentation, he realized that this ndividual was pit-tagged about 15 years prior! A neat find for sure.
UPDATE 1/15/2016 I recently met with my old field mentor/colleague, Dr. Mata-Silva who informed me that this individual rattlesnake was re-captured yet, again! The re-capture took place 3 years after the previously mentioned, which means that this individual is going on 18 years as a research subject. How exciting!
It’s A Toad…! No, It’s A Grasshopper This guy was found in my home garden which is situated right next to the open natural desert shrub-land. The first time I’ve seen a Robust Toad Lubber was at IMRS. It was found by a fellow naturalist while she was out looking for insects. It was one of the neatest creatures I have seen. He was perfectly stout and pudgy just as a toad. I was definitely taken with him. Though the one I found near my home was smaller in size and lightly colored it was still a neat find. The kind of finds that remind me of my love for all things wild.
Love your photos!