[Three Hundred Animals Contents]
WHOSE name seems to carry with itself something of an opprobrious meaning, is not so despicable as not to deserve the attention of the keen observer of nature. Somewhat like the frog in the body, he also resembles him in his habits; but the frog is nimble and leaps at a great distance, whilst the toad crawls, and strives in vain to haste away. It is an error to suppose the Toad to be a noxious and venomous animal; he is as harmless as the frog, and like some of the human kind, only labours under the stigma of undeserved calumny. Several stories have been related of his spiting poison, or knowing how to expel the venom he may have received from the spider or any other animals, but these fables have been long exploded, and have vanished like vapours before the enlightening torch of experiments. A curious and yet inexplicable phenomenon is that Toads have been found alive in the center of large blocks of stone where they must have subsisted without food and respiration for a number of years. The fact, we believe, cannot be denied, but the way in which this spark of animal life is preserved passes the limits of our conception. With regard to the length of life in amphibious animals, it is impossible to state any thing decisive, as several facts prove that some of them have been blessed with astonishing longevity.
According to La Cepède and other naturalists, it is also impossible to determine how far an amphibious animal may increase in bulk. The immense skins of a Lizard and of a Toad, have long been seen in one of the churches at St. Omer, in Picardy, and have astonished the beholders.