Boreal/Western Toad: Bufo boreas

Common name: Boreal/Western Toad
Scientific name: (Anaxyrus boreas)
Classification name: Toad

Description: This toad is usually green or brown with a light stripe down the back. Like all toads, it has a dry, warty skin. The warts may be reddish brown and are surrounded by black marks. Unlike other toads it has no cranial crests although it does have oval parotid glands. The belly is pale with dark mottling. Adults reach up to 12 cm in size.

Call: The breeding call is a quiet peeping like little chicks.

Confusing Species: The Western Toad is the only true toad found in British Columbia. Along the eastern edge of its range in Alberta, it may overlap with the Canadian Toad which has cranial crests fused into a bony hump between the eyes.

Distributions: The Western Toad is found throughout most of British Columbia, the west central third of Alberta and just into the south east corner of the Yukon as well was much of the western United States.

Habitat: This species can be found in boreal forest, sub-alpine and alpine environments up to 3000 m elevation. It is usually near ponds, streams, rivers and lakes but often shelters in loose, moist soil or rodent burrows. Breeding takes place in small shallow ponds and pools, often with a sandy bottom.

Reproduction: Breeding takes place from April to June. Long strings of up to 16,500 eggs are laid and entwined around submerged vegetation. These hatch in three to twelve days. Larvae transform in six to eight weeks.

Natural History: Western Toads are usually nocturnal except at high elevations. Their diet includes worms, slugs and insects. Unlike most toads, western toads walk rather than hop. When disturbed they may exhibit a defensive posture by raising on their legs and puffing up with air. This makes it harder for predators to swallow them. They take two to three years to mature and can live up to 35 years in captivity.

Conservation Concerns: There is no evidence that Western Toad populations are declining in Canada although it has declined in parts of the United States such as Colorado. Hatching success of Western Toad eggs may be reduced by increased UV radiation.