American Toad

American Toad

Eastern Toad, Common Toad

Anaxyrus americanus

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The American toad, scientifically known as Anaxyrus americanus, is a fascinating amphibian that can be found across much of North America. It is a medium-sized toad with a stout body and a bumpy, warty skin. One interesting feature of the American toad is its ability to change color, depending on its surroundings and temperature. It can range from light brown to dark green or gray, helping it blend in and stay hidden from predators.

American Toad

Common Name
American Toad

Other Names

Eastern Toad, Common Toad

Latin Name

Anaxyrus americanus

Distribution

MB, ON, QC, NB, NS, PEI, NL

Appearance

It is a medium-sized toad with a stout body and a bumpy, warty skin. It has the ability to change color, depending on its surroundings and temperature. It can range from light brown to dark green or gray, helping it blend in and stay hidden from predators.

Size

2 to 3.5 inches (5 to 9 centimeters) in length. The females tend to be slightly larger than the males.

Habitat

American toads are primarily terrestrial but can also climb trees and walls using their strong legs and sticky toe pads. They gather to breed near ponds, lakes, or wetlands.

Behavior

During the day, you’ll often find them hiding in cool, moist places like under logs, rocks, or in burrows to avoid the heat. They are primarily nocturnal, becoming more active at night when the temperatures are cooler and humidity is higher. During the breeding season in early spring, male American toads congregate near water bodies such as ponds or wetlands and start their chorus of high-pitched calls to attract females. The males produce these calls by inflating their vocal sacs, creating a distinct and melodious trilling sound. The females choose their mates based on the quality and intensity of these calls.

Diet

American toads eat Insects, including ants, beetles, and spiders

Lifecycle

Typical frog lifecycle. Eggs are laid in long strings in water, attached to vegetation. They hatch into tadpoles over a few days to weeks depending on the temperature. The tadpoles feed on algae and other organic matter in the water. Tadpoles go through a metamorphosis into toadlets, and finally into toads. This process can take a couple of months. Once they have developed into toads, they leave the water in large groups.

Vocalization

A unique high-pitched trill or a musical ‘waaaah.’

Defense Mechanisms

When threatened or approached by predators, American toads have a clever defense mechanism. They can puff themselves up, making their bodies appear larger and more intimidating. Additionally, their skin produces toxins that deter many predators from trying to eat them. These toxins serve as a valuable defense against predators in the animal kingdom. If you encounter an American toad, it’s important to remember that these toxins can be harmful if ingested or if they come into contact with sensitive areas like the eyes or mouth, so it’s best to observe them without handling them.

Ecological Importance

American toads play an essential role in controlling insect populations, as they are voracious eaters of various insects, including ants, beetles, and spiders. They have a specialized tongue that they use to capture their prey with lightning-fast strikes.

Conservation Status

‘Least Concern’. The American toad is not facing significant threats that would endanger its overall population.
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