Mexican Burrowing Toad Fact File

Rhinophrynus dorsalis








Wild 1 years

Captive 1 years




Conservation Status


Least Concern

The Mexican burrowing toad is suitably named spending much of its time below ground only emerging after periods of heavy rain or to breed.

During the rainy season males will call in an attempt to attract a female. He will fertilize the eggs which she deposits in to a temporary water body formed during heavy rain and a few days later they hatch.

These toads feed on small insects, especially termites which they can capture using their sticky tongue.

Read on to learn more about these amazing amphibians.


Across their body the Mexican burrowing toad is covered with smooth, moist skin which sits loosely over the body. This skin is colored dark brown to near black. Running down the center of the back is a red or orange stripe with a pattern of similarly colored spots on either side of the body.

To help burrow in to the soil they have a pointed snout which is tipped with callouses. Their eyes are quite small compared to their body size.

On the feet they have horny appendages which are like shovels and help with digging.

Females are significantly larger than the males. They measure between 6 and 8cm (2.5 and 3.25in) long.


Mexican burrowing toads are carnivores. They mostly feed on termites along with a range of other insects. Their long tongue is used to help grab these insects.

Mexican Burrowing Toad


North and Central America is the native home of the Mexican burrowing toad. Here they can be found throughout Belize; Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua and the United States.


Mexican burrowing toads live in lowland areas including through forest, savanna, shrubland, grassland and wetlands. They often live in areas which are seasonally flooded.

The areas they call home feature soft, sandy soil in to which they are able to burrow easily.

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Breeding takes place during the rainy season. Males call to attract a female using their vocal sac to amplify the sound.

The eggs and larvae complete their development in temporary pools which are formed following heavy rains.

Eggs which are fertilized will sink to the bottom of the water and hatch after a few days. Each female may produce thousands of eggs in each season either in a single clutch or across multiple.

At hatching the tadpoles are filter feeders. They will strain small plants and animals from the water.

After three months the tadpoles complete their metamorphosis in to an adult frog.


To help prevent them from drying out they will spend much of their time underground. When entering their burrow they move backwards. They only come to the surface following periods of substantial rainfall.

Much of their activity takes place at night.

Their call is loud and low pitched with a whoooa sound.

Mexican Burrowing Toad

Predators and Threats

When a predator approaches the Mexican burrowing toad it will swallow air to inflate its body. This makes it harder for the predator to remove the toad from its burrow.

Currently no major threats are recognized for this species. Their population is considered to be stable.

Quick facts

These animals may also be simply known as the burrowing toad.

The Maya referred to this species as the uo which is meant to resemble their call.

Mexican burrowing toads are the only members of their family, Rhinophrynidae.

Mexican Burrowing Toad

Photo Credits

Top and Bottom

Greg Schechter from San Francisco, USA, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle One

Pstevendactylus, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Middle Two

William L. Farr, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


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

Beaudry, B. 1999. "Rhinophrynus dorsalis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed June 15, 2021 at

AmphibiaWeb 2021 Rhinophrynus dorsalis: Mexican Burrowing Toad <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 15, 2021. 2021. Rhinophrynidae - Burrowing Toads | Wildlife Journal Junior. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 June 2021].

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