Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Toad Named Verdi

The dorm building I lived in my Sophomore year in college was conveniently located at the top of a hill next to the most questionable looking pond I have ever seen.

My biology professor energetically assured us that Ink Pond was in fact healthy and just especially good at growing stuff like algae (in excess, in my opinion) and not actually toxic as it appeared.

Even with the signs forbidding students from going in there.

But despite the pond regularly existing in such a state that a soda bottle could be tossed into it only to reside sitting on top of the water as a result of the thick algae growth until the eco students fished it off, it still was a very popular place for the local amphibian wildlife to hang out.

I had no idea how NOISY frogs can be until I had windows open at night by a pond in Iowa.

However, there was one species of particularly brave toad that liked to quietly hang out underneath the lamp posts in the evening to catch the bugs that would be drawn to the light, and many of these guys would completely ignore you walking by it.

(I was always a bit saddened by the dead frogs and toads with bike tracks across their middles that I'd see on the campus sidewalks every few mornings. Perhaps a little more fear of people would have served them well.)

One evening I came upon a particular complacent looking toad.

I looked at him.

He looked at me.

I gently touched his back.

He looked at me.

I gingerly picked him up.

He looked at me.

I sat him on my palm a few inches above the ground.

He sat there.

I decided to keep him as a pet.

At the time I was in a Music History course, and in the middle of studying the Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi (who pretty much single-handedly advanced music from the Renaissance period to the Baroque and wrote like, the first real opera ever), and thought that Monteverdi was an excellent name for an amphibian.

However, the shortened form "Verdi" which I usually called him often left people thinking I'd just named the stupid thing after the Spanish color green, but explaining about the composer no-one knows about anyways just seemed like too much effort most of the time.

So for the record, I wasn't calling him green, I was calling him madrigal-y.

But the thing about keeping a toad as a pet which I hadn't fully realized before hand was feeding it.

We were pretty sure toads eat crickets, so my boyfriend at the time went out that first night and caught half-a-dozen little crickets, thinking that would hold Verdi over for a few days. We put the crickets in the temporary toad-home shoe box along with a pile of grass and a small bowl of water, made sure it had ventilation, and that he couldn't jump out of it during the night.

The next morning, ALL of the crickets were gone, and I found myself looking at very fat toad.

So then I had the realization that I would need a habitat for Verdi AND a habitat for Verdi's food if I planned on having more than a day's supply of crickets on hand at any time.

Luckily, as I wasn't exactly the sort to be inclined to catch crickets every night, pet stores totally sold them by the bag along with cricket food.

Originally I had gotten the super cheap little mix stuff (cricket kibble, for all intensive purposes) and just put in a little soda bottle cap of water for the insects (as I hadn't really intended on keeping bugs for pets), but crickets are really stupid creatures and kept drowning themselves in their little water dish, and I wasn't a big fan of needing to clean up drowned crickets, so I had to upgrade to the orange goo (think jello) that worked as BOTH food and water for them.

However, it also meant I had to listen to crickets chirp every. single. night in their little cricket catcher.

Verdi was the most docile hopping creature I have ever seen, and was content to be held, never croaked, and didn't even try to get away even when I'd let him hop around the room (supervised, of course). 

The only trouble with Verdi's habitat itself was that it was challenging to find a dish that was big enough for him to swim in that was also easily accessible for the little guy (I don't think he had been the best hopper on the hilltop in the first place). And then one time he left his skin floating in it.... that was both fascinating and just a little bit creepy.

And now, I rather wish we lived in a place that would allow for natural toad finding with my children so we could maybe keep one for a week or two for them to learn about these fascinating little creatures without me needing to commit to cricket-feeding something for years and years.

Plus whenever I let Kristina look at that section of the pet store she always wants a tarantula or one of those dragon lizards that eat mice.

And I am NOT keeping pet mice to feed to a pet lizard.

1 comment:

  1. So what happened to Verdi? Untimely death? Release at the end of the semester?