Wisconsin Sea Grant Frogs: Field Guide
Eastern American Toad
(Bufo americanus americanus)
A prolonged, high-pitched trill that may last more than 30 seconds
Size: 5.1-11.1 cm in length (2-4.4 inches)
Highly variable in color, ranging from tan, brown, or reddish brown to
gray or olive. Most individuals have dark, rounded spots on the back,
each of which encircles one or two warts. A light line may run down the
middle of the back. The throat and belly are whitish or yellowish with
black or gray spotting.
Widely ranging throughout the Great Lakes region; can be found in urban
parks, suburban backyards, farmland, savannas, prairies and forests.
When not out looking for food, eastern American toads will keep cool
by spending much of their time buried in dirt, leaves, or beneath logs
or rocks. They dig into the ground backwards, using their hind feet as
shovels. In the winter, they simply burrow deeper to escape the cold.
Fowler's Toads usually have three or more warts within each of the larger
spots on their backs, and often have unmarked, whitish undersides. Their
short, nasal-sounding breeding call is quite unlike the long, musical
trill of the Eastern American Toad. These two toad species may interbreed.
Breeding: April to July
What's the difference between toads and frogs?
Frogs and toads are related, but they're not exactly alike. Frogs have
smooth, slick skin, while toads have warty, bumpy skin (by the way, you
can't get warts by touching a toad!).
Toads can handle dry conditions better than frogs. And while frogs leap
away to escape danger, toads are protected by their camouflage colors
and by skin secretions called bufotoxins.
These secretions are stored in the toad's parotid glands, which look like
swollen bumps on their heads. If caught, a toad will likely puff itself
up with air, urinate, and secrete these bufotoxins in an effort to get
dropped. Neither the toxin
nor the urine is harmful to humans (unless ingested).
Farmers and gardeners like to see toads, because toads eat many types
of insects and insect larvae, as well as spiders, centipedes, millipedes,
snails, slugs and earthworms. If you want to attract toads to your garden,
provide a moist hiding place such as an inverted plant holder. Avoid using
garden chemicals, and put out a large pan full of water in April.
copyright 2001 University
of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute