Nfld. & Labrador

Why did the toad cross the road in the rain? To reproduce, of course

Rainy, humid weather combined with the toad's mating season is causing them to come out in droves on the west coast and in central Newfoundland.

Many toads end up sacrificing themselves to breed

Drivers are trying to avoid toads on roads near ponds in west coast Newfoundland. (Joe Brazil/Submitted)

Rainy weather can stir up a variety of driving hazards, from ruts and washouts to poor visibility, but an abundance of toads isn't usually the first obstacle that comes to mind.

With warm, spring rain falling in western and central Newfoundland, drivers are finding themselves dodging dozens of toads on pond-adjacent roads.

Christine Campbell, a professor of biology at Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, says the movement of toads from the woods to across the roads is all about reproduction. 

Especially right after sunset, you might meet a whole bunch of toads on the road.- Christine Campbell

"Basically it's their breeding season, and the toads are mainly moving from the woods down to the ponds where they're going to breed and lay eggs," Campbell said.

Biologist Christine Campbell says toads that seem to be crossing the road this time of year may actually be using the pavement as a 'transport corridor.' (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"The movement is really stimulated by temperature and moisture. Toads don't do well in dry conditions — they will dry out."

Depending on the time of day, Campbell said drivers could come across hundreds of toads crossing the road at a time. 

"They're coming from a kilometre or so away, all around the pond, so it's a big mass of toads who are moving from a big landscape to one specific pond," she said.

The highest toad populations in Newfoundland are on the west coast near Corner Brook, Steady Brook and Deer Lake, but it's not unusual to find them in central Newfoundland. (Joe Brazil/Submitted)

"Especially right after sunset, you might meet a whole bunch of toads on the road."

Unfortunately for some of the hopeful procreators, Campbell said they won't all make it across.

"While it seems like a lot of toads might be run over on the road, I think in terms of the total population it's not really affecting growth."

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from CBC Newfoundland Morning

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