American Toad

Bufo americanus

Copyright, Tom Gula

The American Toad is probably the amphibian most often seen by people in our area. It enters lawns and gardens, and it frequently crosses roads.

American Toads are large, growing up to 4 1/2 inches long. Full-grown adults are usually chubby.

These toads varies in color, but are usually brown, brick-red, or olive-colored. They have patterns of lighter colors on their bodies, as well as brown spots. All of them have warts, and some have a light stripe down their backs.

Both male and female toads have a spotted belly, but the male has a darker throat.

Copyright, John White

Mark Moran

American Toads are most often seen and heard in the Spring when they are breeding. They are also seen frequently in the Fall when they look for new places to live and hibernate.

In the Spring, male toads find pools of water and begin calling females. To do this, the male will stretch out his dewlap (the pouch at his throat) to create his unique song. The American Toad call is a long, pleasant trill, that many people mistake for crickets. Remember, crickets sing in the Fall, toads in the Spring!

J. Harding

Copyright, Brad Moon, California Academy of Sciences

Females, who are attracted to the calls of males, reach the water and mating begins.

Males will "hug" the larger females in a position called amplexus. The female will lay thousands of eggs in long strings in the water. The eggs will be attached to plants.

Tadpoles will hatch from the eggs in about a week. The black tadpoles will steadily grow by eating plant material for over a month.

Then they will emerge from the water as young toads.

Copyright, Tony Gamble, University of Minnesota

Copyright, Scott Egan, Rhode Island Vernal Pools

Adult American Toads are found just about anywhere there is moisture. They now have lungs to breathe out of water, but like all amphibians, they need to keep their skin moist.

American Toads can be found in forests, meadows, and gardens. They are mostly active at night.

These toads are predators and they eat a lot. Insects, spiders, earthworms, snails, and slugs make up most of their diet, but they will eat just about anything that fits in their mouths.

American Toads will lash out with their sticky tongues to grab prey. If the prey is large, they will use their arms to stuff it into their mouths.

American Toads hide under rocks, logs, and leaf litter during the day. When the weather gets cold, toads will burrow up to three feet under ground to hibernate.

Predators of American Toads include snakes, owls, skunks and raccoons.

American Toads have special glands, called paratoid glands, which produce a foul-smelling, toxic chemical. This will keep some predators from trying to eat it.


Copyright, David Spier

Mark Moran

Other defenses used by American Toads, include playing dead and puffing up their bodies to look bigger than they actually are.

To get around the paratoid glands, raccoons will flip over an American Toad and eat from the underside.

American Toads can live up to thirty years.

David Malak

Additional Media

Male Call
Male Toad Calling
Link to Video

Relationships in Nature:




Poison Ivy

Muskrat SP

Field Cricket

Barred Owl

Virginia Creeper

Chigger Pa

Leopard Slug

Striped Skunk

Common Cattail


Black Rat Snake

Common Duckweed

Rabid Wolf Spider

Eastern Hognose Snake

Bracken Fern

Eastern Bloodsucking Conenose

Eastern Garter Snake

Red Clover

Black Carpenter Ant


Common Reed

Garden Centipede

Red-tailed Hawk

Common Elderberry

North American Millipede

Common Crow

Cinnamon Fern

Pennsylvania Firefly

Northern Ringneck Snake

Tussock Sedge

Horned Fungus Beetle

Northern Water Snake

Green Algae

Patent-leather Beetle

Common Grackle


Goldenrod Spider

Eastern Mosquitofish

Japanese Honeysuckle

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth

Long-leaf Pondweed

Common Black Ground Beetle

Lamb's Quarters

Daring Jumping Spider

Common Ragweed

Blue Bottle Fly

Running Cedar

Chinese Mantid

Climbing Bittersweet

Northern Ringneck Snake

Bushy Aster

Northern Caddis Fly

Relationship to Humans:

American Toads are extremely helpful to people, especially in gardens where they will eat huge numbers of pests, including insects and slugs. Many people consider the pleasant mating call of toads to be one of the highlights of Spring. People do NOT get warts from handling toads. However, toads will release fluid from their paratoid glands. This can be harmful if the fluid gets into your eyes or swallowed. American Toads also have a tendency to pee when they are picked up.


Bufo americanus


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