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American Toad Fact File

Anaxyrus americanus

Weight

Insufficent

Data

Length

5-9cm

(2-3.5in)

Lifespan

Wild 10 years

Captive 10 years

Diet

Carnivore

Invertebrates

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

The American toad is found along across eastern North America in the United States and Canada. They must be found near a watercourse where they can deposit their eggs.

On their back are a pair of parotid glands which contain poison that can be released if bitten by a predator. This helps them to keep safe against predators such as reptiles, mammals and birds.

As adults these animals are carnivores feeding on a range of invertebrates while larvae are herbivores which feed on water plants.

No major threats to this species are recognized. In fact by irrigating land humans have helped to expand their range.

Read on to learn more about these amazing amphibians below.

Appearance

The coloration of the American toad is highly variable based on humidity and other factors. They may be tan, brown, reddish-brown or olive green. While many are a solid color others can have a pattern. In some individuals a stripe is present down the middle of the back.

On their underside they are colored white or yellow with black or grey spots. Around the pupil is a rim of citron yellow.

Their back features dark round spots with each having one or two spots in each of these locations. From these they can emit a white toxin which can be used to poison predators. Across the body are a range of warts.

Males tend to be smaller than females. and often have a dark throat. An average American toad will measure 5-9cm (2-3.5in) long.

Diet


American toads are carnivores. They primarily feed on invertebrates such as spiders, earthworms and slugs. Each day they may consume as many as 1,000 eggs.

Tadpoles will feed on water plants.

To catch food they will stick out their long tongue.

American Toad

Range

North America is the native home of the American toad. Here they can be found in the east of the country. They can be found in Canada and the United States.

Habitat

They make their home in forest, shrubland, prairies, mountains, grassland and wetlands. These frogs have an adaptability to live almost anywhere that has cover for them to hide in and water for them to breed in.

When inactive the American toad will seek out shelter under objects such as logs, ground litter, rocks or enter a burrow.

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Reproduction

Mating takes place from March to July with some regional variation based on latitude.

At the start of the breeding season the males will gather at the breeding pond and produce their vocal call. This helps attach the female who the male will grab on to and then fertilize the eggs. These are deposited in a string with thousands of other eggs.

They will breed in any slow or standing pool of water. Their is a preference for bodies of water with no fish in them.

The female will deposit the eggs in to the water which then hatch in to a larvae after 3-12 days. Their eggs are counter-shaded being black on top and white on the bottom.

No care is provided to the young after the eggs are laid.

These will complete their metamorphosis in to adults between 50 and 65 days old. Many tadpoles do not make it to adulthood. Following their metamorphosis they are 0.8-1.3cm (0.3-0.5in) long.

These tadpoles are colored dark.

Sexual maturity is reached by two years old.

Where the range overlaps they may produce a hybrid with Fowler's toad or the southern toad.

Behavior

These animals are primarily nocturnal. During the day they seek shelter in a burrow. They will also burrow when the weather is cold.

American Toad

Predators and Threats

Adults face predation from snakes, birds and mammals. Some of these have developed a tolerance to the toxic secretions of these toads.

When threatened by a predator they will puff themselves up to look bigger. If a predator grabs them they can eject toxins from the gland on their head to protect themselves.

No major threats to this species are currently recognized.

Humans have assisted this species through the creation of irrigated areas which allow them to live in regions they couldn't have previously occupied.

Quick facts

Recently taxonomists have moved the American toad from the genus Anaxyrus instead of Bufo as they were for a number of years.

These animals may also be known as the hop toad.

They are the most widespread species of toad found in North America.

American Toad

Photo Credits

All – Public Domain

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Jackson, T.,2011. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Animals, Birds & Fish of North America. 1st ed. Leicestershire: Lorenz Books

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2015. Anaxyrus americanus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T54570A56843565. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T54570A56843565.en. Downloaded on 25 June 2021.

Nhpbs.org. 2021. American Toad – Bufo americanus – NatureWorks. [online] Available at: <https://nhpbs.org/natureworks/americantoad.htm> [Accessed 25 June 2021].

AmphibiaWeb 2012 Anaxyrus americanus: American Toad <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/100> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 25, 2021.

Srelherp.uga.edu. 2021. Species Profile: American Toad (Bufo [Anaxyrus] americanus) | SREL Herpetology. [online] Available at: <https://srelherp.uga.edu/anurans/bufame.htm> [Accessed 25 June 2021].

Grossman, S. 2002. "Anaxyrus americanus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed June 25, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Anaxyrus_americanus/

Cwf-fcf.org. 2021. American Toad. [online] Available at: <https://cwf-fcf.org/en/resources/encyclopedias/fauna/amphibians-and-reptiles/american-toad.html> [Accessed 25 June 2021].

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