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Toadmageddon

Drivers Horrified as Writhing Toads Cover Entire Surface of Road

byMaggie Harrison Dupré
7.26.23, 12:52 PM EDT
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"The word Biblical came to mind."

Toad Work Ahead

The toads cometh.

In an incident that's been described by one witness as "toad-mageddon," a mile-and-a-half wide swarm of tiny toads reportedly overtook a stretch of highway in Stockton, Utah last week, causing a temporary traffic stand-still as drivers waited for the froggy critters to cross the road.

"I noticed that the road itself was moving," driver Mary Hulet told Utah outlet KSL News. "As I looked and I kind of focused on it, I realized that these were frogs or toads that were crossing the road."

“We aren't talking like 10 toads. We're talking like thousands of toads crossing the road," Hulet added. "I'm like, 'Is this like toad-mageddon? What in the world is going on here?'"

Judging from videos, toad-mageddon doesn't seem too far off. Per KSL, experts estimate that the amphibious mass was comprised of hundreds of thousands of toads, which we can only imagine was a remarkable — if somewhat terrifying — sight to behold.

Leaving the Nest

Wildlife professionals were as flabbergasted by the mass migration as the public was. Though the species of toad, confirmed to be the Great Basin spadefoot, is native to the area, and they do migrate, this degree of mass migration is apparently highly unusual.

"The word Biblical came to mind," Chris Crockett, the aquatics manager at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, told KSL.

"It's completely natural, but I would definitely say that was a pretty spectacular event," he continued. "We're probably talking hundreds of thousands of toads."

That said, officials do have an explanation: water. Per KSL, Utah has gotten a lot of rainfall this year, with a string of recent thunderstorms adding to the deluge. This influx of hydration, experts say, provided ideal breeding conditions for the road toads, which hatch in water before heading up to land.

So, these hundreds of thousands of toads were likely all fledglings, attempting to cross the road as they left their watery nurseries. (And no, sadly, not everyone made it.)

"These juvenile toads decided it was a good time to leave their area and out-migrate into some of these surrounding hills," Crockett told KSL. "It's just a great example of how dependent most of the species in Utah are on good water years."

More on biblical amphibians: Experts Alarmed by Teen Breeding Millions of Frogs for "Frog Army"


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