The pebble toad, which sometimes goes by it’s much harder to pronounce Latin name of, Oreophrynella nigra, is a small species of amphibian native to Venezuela that has evolved one of the most kick-ass defence mechanisms in the animal kingdom. Turning into a ball and peacing the fuck out.
Since we know nobody is going to believe us when we say this thing turns into a tiny rubber ball to avoid predators, here’s a GIF of it in action before we go any further.
To be clear, that is a real animal that is really rolling itself down the side of a mountain and it does it all the fucking time! To explain, the pebble toad lives on rugged, mountainous terrain that offers very little in the way of places to hide if a predators turns up with an empty stomach. Sure the pebble toad could hide under a rock or try to camouflage itself in a tuft of grass or something like that, but it’s so small that if it’s caught in the open, there’s almost no way it’s going to be able to move faster than a predator, unless it decides to harness the power of gravity to tell potential predators to eat a metric ton of dick.
Which is why it the pebble toad has developed this awesome way of moving. Turning into a ball and allowing itself to become gravity’s play-thing allows the toad to cover a huge amount of ground in just a few seconds. Making it almost impossible to catch and giving it a few vital seconds to hide when it comes to a stop. To turn into a ball, the toad pulls its limbs as close to its body as possible and pulls its muscles taut, giving in the appearance of a small rubbery pebble, hence the name, “Pebble toad”.
As for how the toad avoids being hurt while effectively throwing itself down the side of a mountain, the short answer is, it’s so small and adorable that it simply doesn’t weigh enough for this to cause it any significant harm. Similar to how baby barnacle geese can throw themselves off of cliffs without dying because they’re too light and fluffy to reach speeds that would cause them harm when they land.
Thanks to this wicked-awesome defence mechanism, the toad is able to forage for food in the open without really having to worry about being eaten, since so few animals can keep up with a it when it reaches terminal velocity. And since turning into a ball causes it no harm, there’s nothing to stop the toad from doing it over and over again whenever it so much as senses danger.
In other words, if you ever go to Venezuela and happen to go mountain climbing, we strongly advise that you carry an umbrella in case it suddenly starts raining toads.