toads

Jessica Ulysses Grant

Boreal toads were once common in the western part of the United States. Today, the toads, and many other amphibians, are under attack from a deadly skin disease known as chytrid fungus, which limits their ability to obtain oxygen and may lead to cardiac arrest. But somehow toads found in Western Wyoming appear to be fighting back against the disease.

There’s a fungus wiping out a special kind of toad that lives in the Rocky Mountains, but scientists may have a solution: a probiotic skin soak.

The boreal toad is a tough little animal, with a lifespan longer than a decade, about half of which is spent buried underneath a thick layer of snow high up in the mountains.

“They’re really impressive little guys,” says Tim Korpeta, a graduate student in biology at the University of Colorado Boulder who has recently embodied another title: toad-bather.