I'm working on an article about Texas' own federally endangered Houston toad. They don't actually live in Houston anymore, but are restricted to a small region of sandy soil habitat north of Houston. A lot of people see Gulf Coast toads all over Houston and think, oh we've got lots of Houston toads! But they're toads in Houston, but not Houston toads! The only Houston toads in Houston are at... the Houston Zoo! And that's exactly where I found myself a couple weeks ago. Biologists there have a captive breeding program, and have started releasing them into the wild over the past couple of years. It's pretty cool stuff. Here are some photos from my trip to the toad quarantine area.
Paul Crump keeps watch over the toads at the zoo.
A row of the toads terrariums.
It looks like he's on stage!
It is almost mating season, and horny toads do what they do best. The females are clearly much larger than the males. This is an "amplexing" male, meaning he grabs the female which stimulates her to release eggs, if she's ready which this gal is clearly not. I also heard a few of the captive toads call!
A few of the toads had gotten infected with a natural fungus found in the environment so they ended up smaller sizes than those that didn't get infected so these guys were kept separate.