Houston Toads: What Are Those Bumps?!

One of our Leon county toads, Red, paused chasing crickets for moment for a quick photo op. She is quite the photogenic toad!

Have you noticed in our Houston toad photos the large, lump-like structure behind the eyes? This structure is not a lump or a wart; it is in fact a specialized gland called the parotid gland. This gland is responsible for producing toxins that protect the toad against predators. Different toads produce different toxins of various “strengths.” In general, these toxins are not dangerous to humans; however, the cane toad (Bufo marinus) produces a toxin that can cause some skin irritation. Has your dog ever picked up a toad, then started foaming at the mouth? It is a reaction to these chemicals that the toad hopes will distract the unlucky pup so it will have a chance to get away!

The size and location of the parotoid gland can also be used to tell the difference between different species of toad. A good resource can be found here: Know Your Toads.

Did you know several compounds made by the skin of amphibians, specifically frogs, are currently the focus of a great deal of biomedical research? Several studies have found that many of these compounds have anti-microbial properties which have led some researchers to believe that they might be used to make the next generation of antibiotics. Additionally, a compound produced by the skin of the green-eyed tree frog (Litoria genimaculata) may be able to stop infection by the HIV virus, the virus that causes AIDS.

It is estimated that ~32% of all amphibian species are threatened with extinction.  Who knows what amazing medical breakthrough is waiting to be discovered on the back of a frog or toad? Now more than ever it is critical that we join together to help save these amazing creatures!

 

For more reading:

http://jvi.asm.org/content/79/18/11598.full.pdf+html

http://www.natureserve.org/library/amphibian_fact_sheet.pdf



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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.

 

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Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

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That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂

Brrrrr

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Omg be warm sweetoe

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Weve heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing?

 

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Ok, it took me a minute to get this. I was literally zooming in to try to find the mouse. 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄😂

Cindy Christina Angela Ramirez see I told y’all! Lol

“Baby it’s cold outside!”

That's nothing! Talk to keepers from the northern states or Canada!

i was honestly looking for a mouse lol

Annecia Wesley but where is the ice bacon? Lol

Wow,that is so neat!

Two words. Pipe insulation.

That’s awesome!

Ana Rivers Smith cool!

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Brrrr. It’s cold out there! We have made the decision to close the Houston Zoo tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 17. Don’t worry, the animals are safe and warm in their night houses!

A limited number of staff from departments like Animal Programs, Safety and Security and Operations/Facilities will be onsite to perform essential services and have the Zoo ready for us to reopen Thursday morning.

A big ol' high-five to our awesome team members who braved this icy cold to come in and care for our animals and zoo facilities.
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Safety and welfare of the animals first! Thanks guys for all you do.

Yes thank you for everything yall do to keep the animals safe .. y'all keep safe and warm

Thank you for taking good care of our animals!

Thank u for keeping those Babies safe and warm!❤️

Thank you for all you do!

Thank you for ZOO LIGHTS. it was amazing this year!

Thank you, zoo team. Stay safe!

Mandy Rinker— really? Too cold? You’re from the Midwest girl

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thank you for all you do and keep the furry babies warm

Ty

Thank you for taking care of our precious animals that we love to come see!

Thank you for keeping those beautiful animals safe. 💕

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Thank you for all you do for these amazing animals!!

Go, Erika!!!

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