Toady, the Pampered Toad
The Misery of Captivity
Last week, my daughter's frog died. We conducted a little funeral and buried his body at Hahamonga Watershed Park where I had found the frog. It is a natural watershed park located before JPL in La Canada, California. Here, the frog had lived amoungst oodles of brothers and sisters, cousins and aunts near a big pond. They were surrrounded by everything they could possibly want: mud, bugs, grasses and weeds, crevices for hiding, blue sky and rain ... until the summer months. It was July when I picked up the tiny froglet and put it in my pocket while walking my dogs on one of the many horse trails. I brought the frog to my daughter because she was babysitting children at the time and I thought she could show it to them. She brought it to the children's house and they enjoyed watching it swim in their small pool in the front yard. She ended up keeping the frog for about four years in a terrarium. It lived a long life in captivity! She took very good care of it. it was a very pampered frog. She claimed it was a toad; a California toad. She had named it Toady.
However, I will never remove a wild creature from nature again. Toady should have been free, free as a toad. Later, I realized that the toads of JPL survive throughout the summer months by living in deep crevices which form in the muddy banks of the shrinking pond. I regret that I took Toady out of the wild. Often, I looked after him when my daughter and her husband went out of town. Naturally, I felt sorry for Toady being cooped up in a glass terrarium, so I would fill the bathroom tub with just enough water to let him practice his frog kick. He would have a great time doing laps in the tub. When I put him back in his terrarium, he seemed invigorated by the exercise and he hopped about with renewed liveliness.
Ordinarily, he was content to hide under a little bridge until a worm or two was placed nearby. Only then, would he muster up enough energy to locate the worm, nab it with his long tongue, and then return to his habitual resting spot beneath the bridge. It seemed he was quite comfortable and indifferent to his surroundings … that is, until he went for a swim!
After being placed back into the terrarium, he would use his renewed strength and energy to try to escape! He would push his nose against the glass with all his might for at least ten minutes. But then he would give up and surrender to his fate by turning himself upside down onto his back and try, I am quite certain, to commit suicide. This behavior occurred every time I put him back in terrarium. About twenty minutes later when I checked on him there he would be once again, on his back, the color blue and almost dead. Luckily, as soon as I placed him onto his stomach, his color would return and he would crawl miserably back to his spot under the bridge. The first time it happened, I had placed him, (stomach down,) in a match-box coffin. After detecting movement in the box, I peered into it and was pleasantly surprised to see that he had turned back to his usual greenish-brown color, which of course meant that he was breathing once again.
I truly believe he purposefully turned himself over onto his back. I reasoned that he had tasted freedom and just couldn't handle the confines of the terrarium any longer. It happened so consistently, I couldn't believe it was coincidence. My daughter never believed that the toad would purposefully turn himself over with the intent of killing himself in misery, suffering in his confinement. As far as she was concerned, he was snug as a bug in a rug.
But last week she saw it for herself. She found him on his back, the color blue … Finally, he had escaped ... to Toad Heaven.
The Way I See It.