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Thread: Hello from NEPA! Better Late than Never!

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Default Hello from NEPA! Better Late than Never!

    Hello Everyone!
    I really should have introduced myself several months agowhen I became a member, but at that time I was just browsing & researchingon how to care for American Toads. I didn’t actually become involved until Iran into a problem a few weeks ago, at which time I had posted an urgent pleafor help! First off… I want to say “Thank You” to everyone who takes the timeto share their experiences and provide information to all the people that cometo this forum for help! Through your experiences, I have learned A LOT in ashort amount of time and your knowledge, dedication & hard work is verymuch appreciated! By no means would I consider myself an expert but I amlearning and want you all to know that any advice that I post is a credit toyou all! We all have a purpose in life, sometimes we are not aware of what itis, and I believe that mine is to help educate others. I have an addiction forlearning… some call it OCD… I prefer, like I said… an addiction for learning!Many times I am misunderstood and quickly referred to as a know it all, but infact… there’s a lot that I don’t know. However, I was born with a great aptitudefor learning and I feel great pleasure when I can help others broaden theirknowledge base. I feel that the more we know, the less ignorant we are towardseach other and especially throughout the animal kingdom… AND WHAT A REMARKABLEWORLD WE LIVE IN!!! It’s just sad that the majority of the world’s populationeither doesn’t care or realize that there is soooo much more out there than us…humans that is!
    My Story…
    As far back as I can remember… I have always been ananimal/nature lover! As a child, I would constantly bring home animals, whichmy parents would make me eventually release but not before I could study them.I was fortunate to be raised in a rural area and there was an abundance ofcreatures/specimens for me to observe and I fell in love with nature! I am not,nor was I ever, afraid to get up close and handle things that make most peoplerun. My family and friends refer to me as “Mother Nature” and as I am turning50 in March, I can say that I have been blessed to have been able towitness/encounter so many of God’s creations! I turn almost every outing intoan adventure and whenever possible, I get children involved because too many ofthem have their faces planted in an Iphone/Ipad or some other electronic devicein front of them and they are missing out on an incredible world…disappointing! Some, at first, are not interested but very soon start to show intrigue& curiosity and then my excitement flows! I believe it is our job to moldtheir minds & promote a better future! Now, I will say that I know peoplehave their own opinions regarding animals… whether it is hunting, catch &release, or catch and keep, etc… Personally, I believe that if an animal issurviving just fine in their natural environment, then it is best to leave italone. However, there are some cases when capturing & keeping an animal is acceptable,such as when rehabilitation is needed or if it has a life threatening deformity…things of that nature. Yes… some would say “Well, that’s still just nature,leave it be”, which I then respond… “If it were human, what would you do? Justleave it be?” Well, that human just got hit by a car but… okay… just let himlay there… shouldn’t have been in the road anyway!!! LOL!!! NOOOO, that’s justnot me! On rainy summer evenings I pull over just to remove the frogs &toads from the roads. I don’t know how many road kills I removed because I justcan’t stand the thought of their deceased bodies being run over again and again!There was even an occasion in which I resuscitated a Watersnake that drowned ina minnow trap! Freaked my Father-in-law out with that one! HAHA! I seem to havea knack for finding animals in distress and if I can’t help them, then I takethem to en environmental center that is close by. Okay, either you’re smilingand agree or rolling your eyes and thinking I’m a nut job! That’s ok… thinkwhat you will but what it comes down to is MY conscience, so even if I make amistake… goodness is my intent. However, not all of my good intentions resultin something positive, such as the case with the toads that I am raising. I’llget to that soon.
    As I said, I am blessed to live in a rural environment &I love being outdoors, whether I am exploring, gardening, walking or justsitting and taking it all in. At heart, I am a biologist, entomologist, lepidopterist,herpetologist, ornithologist,… pretty much anything ending with “ist”. If itcan be studied… I study it! I have a very curious mind and live in an areawhere I am able to find many curious things! Leading to my house is a longdriveway with a portion of it having a retaining wall made of old railroadties. It has been slowly decaying over the years and has become a home to manydifferent creatures… insects, spiders, salamanders, snakes, frogs & toads.I refer to it as… “The Living Wall”! During the evenings of Spring, Summer& Fall I am out at the wall with a flashlight, tweezers & some sort ofcontainer, looking for whatever I can find. As soon as I discover somethingnew, I scramble for my identification/resource books or the internet, so I canlearn everything about it. 2019 was a spectacular year for discovering crittersthat I haven’t seen before, such as Spotted Salamanders (in both adult &juvenile form), Giant Millipedes, Polydesmida Millipedes, different species ofmoths, a strange worm called a Land Planarian (which is known to consume &decimate earthworm colonies!), Masked Hunter Bugs (which a bite can cause pain& swelling for up to a week… Glad I didn’t touch that one!!), differentspecies of birds & more! As for “The Living Wall”… I have some residentsnakes, spiders and toads that have been there for years. There is a NorthernRingneck Snake that I have been watching for the last 6 years. He is 18” inlength and I estimate his age to be between 8-10 years old. I also have abeautiful Milk Snake that I have been watching for the last 3 years. For 8years, I had a female American Toad that would come to greet me, as she knewthat I would scramble to find her a nice plump earthworm! She has been gone forseveral years now and I noticed a significant decline in the overall number oftoads, especially this past summer. I do have one very large, adult toad thatknows his way to my kitchen door. It’s kinda funny because it’s not easy forhim. I have a disabled dog that cannot do steps, so I had to build a ramp whichleads into my carport & entry door to my kitchen. Well, the toad found his way up the ramp and many nights as Iopened the door… there he would be sitting. At first I thought it was a coincidencebut I kept finding him there almost every night! The hilarious part is that mydog even got so used to him. I would tell my dog to sit and watch the toadwhile I would go look for worms… and he would! Seriously… My dog would sit andstare at the toad and if the toad moved, my dog would walk and sit next to him!He made sure not to lose sight of the toad and stayed with him until I returnedwith a worm! After I fed the toad, then my dog would get a treat too! WHAT ADOG! Anyway, the insects were overwhelming and they obliterated pretty mucheverything that I had planted. I’m not one to use chemicals or pesticides, so Iknew that I had to do something to replenish the toad population. This is where“Operation Toad Replenishment” came into play.
    My Toad Story….
    Fortunately, mynephew has a pond that spawns thousands of frogs & toads, so I knew rightwhere I could find some. I waited until late summer/early autumn to collectsome late season toadlets, ones that were tiny and had little chance ofsurviving the winter. Although I knew the basics about toads, I didn’t know abounthusbandry and that’s where this forum came in handy! I quickly learned aboutsubstrate, specific nutritional needs (which I realized the need for knowledgeregarding the care for just feeder insects, which is a whole different area)and water requirements. Boy… there was an awful lot to learn and I had verylittle time to do so! I spent hours researching… What? Substrate is differentthan just dirt? Can’t I just use tap water? Nope! This beetle is okay but thisone is NOT??? Then, the toads were soooo tiny… I would spend hours, everyday,out in my yard (and my neighbor’s yard) finding insects & worms that weresmall enough for the toads to eat. Can you say…. Ibuprofen? I needed a lot ofthat! LOL!!! My back, knees, neck… well, EVERYTHING was hurting! Even my eyeswere going bonkers! After a few weeks, my neighbors couldn’t stand their owncuriosity of “What the hell is that woman doing”, so they broke down and had toask. LOL! In all reality… it isn’t very difficult to take care of toads, ONCEYOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING, but it can become very time consuming! I went outwest on a family vacation and had pages of care instructions, post-it notes allover the enclosures, photos & even videos for the couple that came tohouse/pet sit for me. BTW… they laughed hysterically at me BUT thanked mebecause it was a learning experience for them. Yeah… I still can’t go anywhere withouttelling anyone who will listen that toads see an explosion of colors at nightand how they have a specific stalk/prey drive. Ohhh… and explaining that theyshed & eat their skin! I admit that it has me a little crazier than Ialready was! So, I started out with 9 toadlets but released 5 because they atevery well and grew rather quickly. I couldn’t come up with any good reason tooverwinter them, so they were set free with enough time to find a suitable dento hibernate in. I was left with 4 and they all went into a partial hibernationwhere their activity & appetite decreased, but a few weeks ago one was justnot right. His name was Chanchu and he had me perplexed. He was growing, eatingfine, shedding, eyes looked good but in a matter of days… he declined. Hestopped eating, skin looked kind of clammy, back legs were splayed and barelymoved. I gave him a warm soak and he appeared to perk up but the following daythings took a turn for the worse. I had left for a couple hours and when Ireturned, he had died! So, even though I had been lurking through the forum formonths… that was the first time I posted a thread. I received a lot of goodadvice but it was all too late and after some studying, I concluded that he hadan impaction. As I became more involved with the forum, I learned that UVB isactually important and required by toads… something that was contradicted inother articles that I read. There are a lot of sources that contradict each other, so I found it's best to listen to people who have and share experiences. That's why this forum is so resourceful! (WINK) So up until a week ago, I was just using a desklamp but have now upgraded to a Reptisun 5.0 UVB. Sadly, I just lost anothertoad… Gama… due to an anal prolapse, most likely caused by an impaction! Despitegiving him honey baths, which did retract the prolapse, it just wasn't enough to save him! Yousee, even though I believe I am doing everything right, unfortunate things canstill happen. Now, I am left with two… Shima & Speckles! Both appear veryhealthy… eating, soaking, & shedding on a regular basis, but I am on aheightened alert! I’ve done too much work, currently breeding Roly Polys,crickets, mealworms & roaches and like a mother hen looking in on themalmost every hour!
    So…. That’s my story! And “thank you” to all who took thetime to read this mini-novel! , I would just like to say that I look forward toreading & learning more from your experiences, sharing stories, perhapshelping anyone else in need and making some friends!!
    P.S. – In addition to my 2 American Toads and 1 Black Lab, Ihave 4 cats (who love watching the toads and chasing down any crickets thatescape!)
    ~Cathy

    I have learned... still learning... ALWAYS LEARNING!
    Every moment is a teachable moment!
    Mistakes are not always a terrible thing, especially when you learn from them!

  2. #2
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    Feb 2020
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    Default Re: Hello from NEPA! Better Late than Never!

    First of all, thanks for welcoming me into the forum a few days ago, I really appreciated your encouragement and advice. We sound a lot alike, bringing home weird creatures, knowing way too many random facts (book nerd here) and accidentally coming across as a know it all to people who don't know us. My favorite spot is under a light in the middle of nowhere at night, with nothing but time, a butterfly net, and a bunch of containers. Frogs, toads, moths, spiders and zillions of other insects.
    I more than understand your thirst to always keep learning, I'm the same way. I love learning about God's unique and intricate creation, and firsthand study is the best!

    I've gotten laughed at, but it's just given me more reason to keep learning, keep being different. You keep that up! The world needs more people like us.
    - MantisGirl13

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