Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 12 …. Toad Maze!!

I woke up late today (11:00 am!), just in time to grab a shower, some food, and head down to the schoolhouse for the talk. The talk was surprisingly good; it was about the roosting behavior of butterflies. The speaker was really excited and enthusiastic, and definitely knew her stuff. I like talks like that; even though I don’t really like butterflies, I paid attention and was genuinely interested the whole time. :)

After the talk, Ximena and I took “Furn” (the latest toad) up to the apartment to meet with Venetia and see about VI tagging. We tried to put the tag in the membrane between two of the toes, and it just didn’t work. The skin on the toads is so thick, and completely opaque. You can’t see anything! Venetia (and Ximena) suggested that I write to North West (a company that makes tags) and see if I could get a sample of their injectable elastomer tag. This might work with the toads, and would still be easier than toe clipping (and last longer, too!). We’ll see what they say when they write back.

I spent the afternoon talking to Hil online and going through the 70-some-odd sound files looking for good tungara choruses. By 5:30, I’d gone through about a third of the files, and I only had 8 total tracks. Bummer. I’m hoping for 20, so we’ll see what happens as I go through the rest.

I headed over to the arena after that and cleaned out the area, and set up cardboard to block the corners. The duct tape didn’t stick to the walls all that well, so I placed some bricks in front of the cardboard as another measure to make sure the walls didn’t fall down. Toad arena complete!

About 8 o’clock, I headed back down to test the arena out. The tripod I borrowed from the frog lab was in pieces and wouldn’t hold together, so I ended up just holding the camera on my lap and perching on the side of the ring. It was fine, except that holding the same position for 3 hours (1 hour per toad) was a bit backbreaking! I will need to get a chair for next time. I placed the 3 larger PVC pieces in a small circle towards the middle of the ring, grabbed a toad from it’s home in it’s original hide box (a flower pot), and placed it backed up to a side wall of the ring.

The toads didn’t do what I wanted (explore the PVC pipes), but they did exhibit some really interesting behavior. Each toad spent most of its time walking around the sides of the ring, but not necessarily following the walls. Every time it found a piece of cardboard, it would jump and smack it right in the middle. The toads would also climb up onto the bricks and use them to jump higher at the cardboard.

Recording toad behavior for 3 hours really makes you think; I had all sorts of wonderful questions and comments for Ximena when I got back to the schoolhouse! We sat and talked for a while, and decided that the toads are bored, and novelty items won’t be enough for them. We needed to build them a more complex arena with “treat areas” so they will explore and find food. Basically….a Toad Maze! We are meeting with Rachel this morning to discuss logistics, and then it’s off to town (again) to buy more supplies. But that’s OK, we’re out of all of our staple foods anyways (yogurt, chocolate, chips, granola bars AND crackers!)

Stay tuned to see what happens with the Toad Maze…. I know I’m excited!!!


  1. > The toads would also climb up onto the bricks and use them to jump higher at the cardboard.

    I wonder if they are trying to break-through it as if it were covering a hole.

  2. I think I am going to work my way backwards to catch up with your Panama adventures!

    The children at school have temporarily stopped following this blog due to overwhelming projects at the Center, but I am sure they will want to return as soon as we can.

    Don’t really like butterflies? Bah! Humbug!!!! ;P

    A toad maze sounds like fun! Can’t wait to see the results.

    How come your staples aren’t the FRESH food of Panama!!!! Grrrrr!!!

  3. Fresh food is hard to put in a backpack and trek around with, mom!

  4. Oh! Gottacha! Wasn't thinking about that aspect. Sorry! (blush)