Colorado River toads

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In terms of rainfall, this year's monsoon has been above average. As a result of this moisture, we should all be on the look out for those little desert creatures that go creeping through the night. This is the time of year when scorpions, tarantulas, snakes, and others tend to be most active.

With the rains, our toad populations have also emerged-something I was reminded of the other night when a Colorado River toad was parked at our front door and another was at the back door. Toads are great to have around for controlling other insects-prey animals that might otherwise attract things like scorpions. So be kind to the toads!

Remember however, the mild mannered Colorado River toads does pose an unusual risk to pets, especially to overly curious dogs. Like most toads, they secrete a toxic mucous when alarmed that can cause seizure and death if your pet licks or eats the toad. So, while it may seem like a lot of fun for your pet to try to chase one, these toad's natural defenses can be quite hazardous.

This time of year, it is probably a good idea to supervise your pets whenever they are outside. Since they are only about the size of a grown man's fist, toads can easily make their way into just about any yard even those with a block wall fence. And, if you happen to live near a wash pay particular attention to the presence of toads in the evening hours. Parents too will want to teach children about the importance of washing their hands with soap after handling any animals, especially a toad.

Otherwise, enjoy this time of year and all the native wildlife Arizona has to offer.

Grey Stafford, Ph.D. is the Director of Conservation and Communications at the Wildlife World Zoo and author of the new pet-training book, " ". He appears frequently on 3TV with some of the zoo's fascinating animals.

Wildlife World Zoo, which is located at 16501 W. Northern Ave., Litchfield Park, is open 365 days a year, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Daytime admission is $16.99 (plus tax) for adults and $8.99 (plus tax) for children 3 to 12; children 2 and younger get in free. For more information, call 623-935-WILD (9453) or visit .