Not many people have seen a toad the size of a small rabbit. And yet there are four right here in Golden Gate Park – in the Borneo level of the Academy’s rainforest exhibit to be exact. Borneo river toads (Phrynoidis juxtaspera), a.k.a giant river toads, are notable for their large size, and predators would be wise to steer clear: these toads secrete a highly toxic, milky poison from their warts when threatened or injured.
Sharing the toads’ space, usually found wrapped around a branch at the top of the tank, are two red-tailed green rat snakes, and a mangrove snake. The mangrove snake (Boiga dendrophila) is mildly venomous and an excellent nighttime hunter. Its vertical, cat-like pupils open wider than round pupils, allowing in extra light in the dark. Red-tailed green rat snakes (Gonyosoma oxycephala), despite their colorful name, are not always green, nor are their tails always red. Case in point, the two female snakes on display at the Academy look very different from one another—one is green with a gray tail and the other is all gray with a greenish head (below, at right), and neither tail could be described as “red.”