Tropical Storm Beryl Spawned a Symphony of Spawning Toads

Amid the cacophony of pelting rain, exploding fuse boxes and cracking tree limbs, another sound followed Tropical Storm Beryl across the Houston area on Monday: a soprano trill, not unlike Cardi B’s signature “okurrr.”

It was the mating call of the male Gulf Coast toad.

This species of toad is rotund, about the size of a tangerine, and speckled brown with a vanilla-colored belly. But you don’t see them as often as you hear them.

On summer nights around Houston, they chime in a competitive chorus. But it’s unusual to hear them during the day.

Beryl seems to have changed that, though. As the storm crossed the metro area on Monday morning, the call of the toads echoed from flooded street corners.

Most toad species breed in the early spring, said Paul Crump, a herpetologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. But given the right conditions, he said, the Gulf Coast toad can breed repeatedly throughout the summer, laying eggs in the temporary pools that form across the city during rainstorms.

The brisk air brought on by Beryl’s winds — unusual during Houston’s scorching summers — might have helped get the toads in the mood.

“They are breeding because the weather conditions, like the rain, cooler temperatures and barometric pressure drops, stimulate them to do so,” Mr. Crump said.


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