After over four years, the other night I left the top of the cage open, juuuuuuust a crack.
It was by accident, of course. I was distracted, it was dark, and didn't close it completely after feeding him. An inch was all he needed to see opportunity and promise...
So the next morning, after having packed & on my way out the door to pickup the minions, I quickly go to feed Spotty a juicy grub. And to my HORROR I realize my error from the night prior, and .... and empty terrarium.
I panic. I check again, and again. Yep, there is most definitely no toad in the terrarium. Panicking, I grab the flashlight. I carefully start tearing apart everything in the vicinity.
I look under the fridge, the stove, amongst boxes nearby.
The challenge here is that this a toad, the size of perhaps a half-dollar. He is tiny and FRAGILE. I could easily crush him by just moving things around, if I'm not careful.
I check the hallway, the bathroom, the bedroom. I look under the bed. Wow, that's a lot of dust bunnies! I'll have to clean that later...
I'm a bit worried now, and start thinking of crazy things. I start guessing myself. What if he *jumped* into the toilet? Did I look inside before I flushed it this morning? What if he go into the shower drain? Could he have escaped through a window?!
I move to the living room. I check underneath dig-dug, which is far too narrow, and I'm worried that I'd have to move it. I look under the arm chair, under the couch (more dust bunnies), ON the couch, between the cushions.
I realize that it's late. 20 minutes late. I figure i'll go grab the kids, and they can help me hunt. So I pickup the game-haul from the corner to load it into the car and WALLAH!
There it is. A gargantuan ball of dust and hair, the size of a tennis ball. Upon closer inspection, there's a toad in there. somewhere.
As fast a bolt of lightening, in one motion, I leap into the kitchen and pour a large bowl of water in the sink. I run back, swoop up this collection of dirt, and *gently* plop it into the bowl.
There's some movement. Not a lot, mind you. The hair is tangled up in his toes and he has trouble moving. With the precision of a surgeon, I gently start pulling off clods of dust and dirt. With every tiny piece removed, I can make out more of a toad. Free in the water, each movement of Spottyanna, frees him a bit more from the muck he's entangled himself into. After a few minutes, he's free of the debris. I take the bowl into his terrarium, and gently scoop him back into his pond.
Startled at first, he hops out of the water, and sits in his favorite corner, no doubt contemplating what he's done. Nobody puts toady in a corner. There he sits, unmoved, for about two days, simply terrified of his ordeal.
Well, it's been two weeks now, and I'm happy to report that Mr. Jones is back to his toad self. He's hopping, and playing and hunting crickets like it's his job. Because, well, it is. Literally. That's all he does. It's the "universal basic income," except for toads.
I don't know why he did it. He had it all, really. Perhaps it was Corona Virus? I don't know if he's learned his lesson: That the world is a big, bad, dusty & hairy place. I sure hope he has.
But I also don't aim to find out.