American Toad: Bufo americanus

American Toad: Bufo americanus

American Toad: Bufo americanus

Common name: American Toad
Scientific name: (Anaxyrus americanus)
Classification name: Toad

Description: The American Toad is a large, squat toad with warty brown, reddish or olive skin and variously coloured spots and skin glands. There is often a light line down the middle of the back. It is distinguished from other toads by its long parotid glands which do not touch its prominent cranial crests. Maximum adult size is 11 cm.

Call The call is a monotone trill up to 30 seconds long, preceded by a single, slightly lower introductory note. In a breeding chorus each male selects a different note to call on.

Confusing Species: The American Toad is the only toad in most of eastern Canada. It overlaps with the Canadian Toad in central Manitoba. The cranial crests of the Canadian Toad are fused into a bony hump between the eyes. In extreme southern Ontario it also overlaps with the Fowler’s Toad, whose parotid glands touch the cranial crests. American Toads can hybridize with these two species which makes identification more difficult in the zones of overlap.

Distributions: The American Toad is widespread throughout the eastern half of Canada from central Manitoba and southern James Bay to Labrador and Prince Edward Island. It is also widespread throughout the eastern United States.

Habitat: American Toads are found in a wide variety of terrestrial habitats from mown grass and gardens to heavily forested areas. They inhabit ponds only during the breeding season and as larvae. Breeding occurs in warm, shallow ponds, shallow streams and river margins and even large puddles and roadside ditches.

Reproduction: American Toads breed from late March to early June depending on how far north they are. Eggs are laid in two strands which are wrapped around aquatic vegetation. The eggs hatch in a few days to a few weeks and the tadpole stage lasts 50-65 days. Emerging toadlets are among the smallest newly transformed amphibians and soon disperse into the surrounding habitat.

Natural History: American Toads hibernate on land and burrow beneath the frost line in the soil. Both tadpoles and toads have poison glands in the skin which reduce their susceptibility to predators. A dog which picks up a toad will drop it and foam at the mouth but will not be hurt. They eat insects and small soil creatures such as worms and slugs.

Conservation Concerns: American Toads are easily attracted to backyard ponds and gardens. There is no evidence that they have declined.