November 30, 2020
Ben here with the first #BenInNature of this week! We see toads all the time in the spring and summer, but once the weather starts getting cold, they all seem to disappear. They haven't taken a road trip to Florida; they're still around, just buried in the soil!
Toads are one of many animals that hibernate during the winter. When animals hibernate, they lower their metabolism, which allows them to use very little energy. They stop moving, and their heart rate and body temperature drop drastically.
Toads have special knobs on their hind feet that help them dig into the soil, and in some areas they'll dig down more than 20 inches to find the perfect depth for hibernation. This is because they need to stay below the frost line so they don't freeze solid. Once they've hit the right depth, they'll settle down for an extremely long winter's nap. Once the soil warms back up in the spring, the toads take it as their cue to dig themselves out and resume their toadly duties.
I found this particular toad while digging in some leaf litter out in the woods. Don't worry, though; I covered it back up after I snapped the picture!
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends.
NEW: TRIVIA CHALLENGE
You've seen the posts. You've learned the facts. Now, it's time to prove you are a #BenInNature Mega Fan! The museum's education team has developed the #BenInNature Trivia Challenge to identify the most devoted fans out there! Everyone who successfully answers each trivia question correctly will be congratulated by having your own nature selfie posted to the museum's #BenInNature Mega Fan Photo Album on the official VMNH Facebook page! Learn more and download the trivia challenge today by visiting www.vmnh.net/research-collections/beninnature-trivia-challenge.
NATURE PHOTO IDENTIFICATIONS
If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!