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American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)

American Toad
Anaxyrus americanus 
(Order: Anura Family: Bufonidae)

Adult American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus). Photo by Tim Eberl. (Ninnescah Reserve near Viola, KS. 11 July 2013).

Adult Diagnosis: One of the most widespread toad species in North America, the American Toad is characterized, as most toads are, by its squat, chunky build and wart-covered skin. The American Toad has been observed as brown, brick red, or olive in color mixed with lighter areas and discolorations from warts (tubercles). American Toads are often identified by a light stripe down the center of their backs. The toad ranges in size with males growing to 55-85mm and females growing to 56-110m. 

Life History: During winter months, the American Toad will hibernate in burrows to escape the cold. In early spring, the toads will begin to emerge and seek a mate. Male American Toads will congregate into shallow, still waters, establish and defend a breeding area, and begin calling for females. Females will decide upon a mate based on the quality of the breeding area and the male's call. When a female approaches, the male will jump on the back of the female and release sperm when eggs are laid. This is an external process similar to other toad species. A female can lay anywhere from 4000 to 8000 eggs that are deposited in 2 'strings.'

Hatching will occur anywhere from 3-12 days after fertilization depending on temperature. Tadpoles will develop during a 50-65 day period in which they mainly consume vegetation. During the final stages of metamorphosis, after arms and legs have developed, the tadpole's tail will recede, gills will disappear, and the toad will begin breathing atmospheric air.

Toad Life Cycle. National Geographic ©2013


Distribution: The American Toad is widely distributed across the eastern and northeastern united states (dark brown area).  Map courtesy of USGS.

Habitat: American Toads are adaptive in habitat choice. Ideal resources for this species to thrive are: a semipermanent pond/ aquatic environment, dense vegetation, and a stable insect population.

Behavior: The American Toad is nocturnal and spends most of its time feeding. It is a solitary animal except in mating seasons. American Toads, especially in times of mating, can display territorial behavior, with larger toads usually displacing smaller toads.

Diet: The adult American Toad is carnivorous and has a fairly broad insect diet. This includes snails, beetles, slugs, etc. The adult American Toad can consume up to 1000 insects daily. Tadpoles are herbivorous.




Conservation Status: Least Concern



Animal Diversity Web:



Barker, W. (1964). Familiar reptiles & amphibians of America. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Elliott, L., Gerhardt, H. C., & Davidson, C. (2009). The frogs and toads of North America: A comprehensive guide to their identification, behavior, and calls. (pp. 128-131). New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Wright, A., & Wright, A. (1995). Handbook of frogs and toads of the united states and canada. (pp. 140-143). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Submitted by: Ryan Smith, August 2013.


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