By Carol Mowdy Bond
COVID-19 has wiped out play groups, afternoons at the local park and splash pad, running next door to be with the neighbor kids, and days at the zoo and science museum.
Like other kiddos, two-year-old Henry figured out that all the fun, spring experiences have been marked off the list.
And let’s face it. Playing at home, all day every day, became totally blasé after the first 48 hours of the pandemic shut downs.
But Henry has come up with a “toadally” great solution.
High-octane and busy-busy-busy Henry has adapted well. He and his family live in rural Yukon, and he’s found the sweet spot on their acreage.
Initially unbeknownst to Henry’s parents, at the edge of the concrete around their backyard pool, there’s a big, fist-sized hole. And if you’re brazen enough to lean fully in and blindly stick your entire fist and arm in there, clear up to your shoulder or past, you’ll find toads. And we’re not talking about just a couple of toads, mind you. There are a lot of really big toads that spend their nights snoozing inside that dark, damp bunker.
So, earlier this spring, Henry developed a daily habit of rising early, and dashing out the backdoor, and sticking his hand and arm inside that hole. Each morning he pulled out the squatty amphibians at a rapid rate.
Henry’s 4-year-old sister realized toads are really fun. So, she joined in with her brother’s daily toad ritual. And, of course, all this happens each day with vigilant, parental safeguards on hand.
Besides the late-riser toads in the hole, there are also early-riser toads that are already prancing and crisscrossing through the grass. So, there’s plenty of running and full-blown aerobics exercise, plus screaming involved, to catch all the toads that are break dancing in the family’s yard.
Not happy with the pursuit alone, Henry wanted to spend quality time with his toads every day. So, his parents found a large, deep tub. Every morning, Henry places all the toads in the tub. And his parents help him lug it around all day long, because Henry wants that tub of toads by his side.
At each day’s end, Henry and his sister release all the toads, as the sun waves goodbye. And the next morning, bright and early, the fun begins anew.
Oklahoma is home to various species of toads. Although some toads and frogs are hard to tell apart, toads often have different characteristics than frogs. Toads usually have dry and warty skin, and they tend to be short and squatty. Frogs tend to have smooth and slimy skin, and longer legs for distance sprinting.
And although toads like damp areas and wetlands, they don’t have to be in water all the time. It’s not uncommon to see an Oklahoma toad hoppin’ down the middle of an asphalt road. But frogs are usually in or around water most of the time.
Since toads don’t follow social distancing rules, there’s something to keep in mind. The females can lay thousands of eggs. Some species lay as many as 25,000 eggs. Those eggs hatch into little tadpoles, and then grow to be the cutest ever teeny tiny toads.
Touching a toad will not give you warts. However, toads secrete a toxin through their skin. It’s not usually harmful if people touch them. But some of them also secrete a milky toxin from a gland behind their eyes that comes out if squeezed. So, you shouldn’t put a toad in your mouth.
Be aware that if your pup grabs a toad in its mouth, those toxins can potentially make the pup sick or even cause death.
Also, as a defense mechanism, toads urinate. So, if you’re handling toads, it’s a good idea to do a lot of hand washing, use hand sanitizer, and not touch your face.
Oh! Those are the rules we’re all following because of COVID-19! So, Henry’s parents already have all of the Toad Handler Sanitary Guidelines covered.