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American Toad

Scientific name: Anaxyrus americanus

The American toad is a beneficial addition to any garden or backyard, as it can eat up to 1,000 insects a day!  They come in various colors and markings, ranging from brown, to olive or tan. Contrary to popular belief, they do not cause warts or bring any harm to humans. But when they are afraid or threatened, they may excrete a toxic chemical or urinate on themselves to discourage predators. They also puff themselves up to look larger. So should you or someone you know pick up a toad, be sure to wash your hands afterwards!

You are very likely to hear the males in spring as they return to their natal ponds or wetlands. They establish a territory and call to females, who will then come to the water to mate with the male of their choice. There is a thought that females base their choice on the call of the male, and that they know to avoid ones that are close relatives to avoid inbreeding.


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What is the difference between a Frog & a Toad ?

All toads are frogs. The word toad is actually a description of a type of frog that lives primarily on land, rather than in the water. Their coloration has adapted so that they blend with their habitats and allows them to hide on the forest floor or among branches. So rather then being green, they are brown, grey or other earth tones.


In early days as tadpoles they eat aquatic plant material. Once they develop into toads and become terrestrial, they become carnivorous and dine on all sorts of insects and slugs.



They need a pond or similar shallow body of water to breed and and then begin life. Later they may be found in cool damp areas like under rocks, porches or vegetative cover. Fields, gardens, yards and anyplace there is a source of food and shelter are a potential habitat.

Life Cycle

After mating in the spring the female lays two strands of eggs numbering in the thousands. These are lodged on vegetation in shallow water to keep them secure and to limit predation. Once they hatch, they are called tadpoles which then continue to develop in their wetland nursery. Eventually the tadpoles grow limbs and develop lungs in place of their gills and become toads. They leave the water to begin life on land. Watch this youtube video to see the whole process.

Ecosystem Connections

Snakes are the most common predator of the toad. While they are eggs and larvae in the pond, most are eaten by other amphibians.

Fun Facts

The toad doesn’t need to drink water as it absorbs it through its belly.

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