ByHelen Gage DeSoto
Asmy father drove the family car along what is now
They were perfectin every detail - a beautiful medium brown with complex dark markings,prominent eyes, visible pulse, splayed hind legs, and almost transparentminiscule feet. The biggest ones might have been half an inch long, but manywere smaller. What to my parents was a mysterious infestation was to me adelight; that is, until I realized that it wasn't possible to walk on the path,no matter how carefully without stepping on some of the creatures.
Later, walking tothe chain ferry, we saw that the road along the river was practically pavedwith squashed and dried toad bodies.
Thetown, however, appeared to be relatively free of the phenomenon in both itsactive phase and its residue. Even in the forest they disappeared within a fewdays, too many to survive in a place they were never intended to inhabit insuch number. Our few, harmless snakes must have enjoyed a feast.
The explanationtendered to my parents by more than one city father (names like Force,
It really happened,but fortunately only once
Inquiries toSociety naturalist John Legge
"Here'swhat I learned from my friend Jim Harding, herpetologist at MSU:
I've witnessedthe same phenomenon. It happens when toad reproduction is limited to a veryshort "window" in springs, followed by sufficient rainfall and goodsurvival of tadpoles-which all metamorphose (turn from tadpoles into toads)at about the same time. The ground can literally be covered in little
So, there youhave it. Makes sense to me. The 'raining toads' idea didn't make much sense tome, considering that weather pretty much comes from the west, hence from overLake Michigan, where ii would be unlikely to pick up any such animals."