Our Wild Neighbors

American Toad

Anaxyrus americanus

Common city garden dweller

Image of an American Toad, seen from an angle with its head to the right and its stomach apparent.

Description of the animal

  • A medium-sized anuran. The male is five to ten centimetres long. The female is bigger; size determines the number of eggs she can lay.
  • Small bumps resembling warts cover the body. Each "wart" is a gland that produces a sticky white substance that wards off predators.
  • Beige, brownish, or reddish colouring.
  • Venom glands located behind each eye.
  • Black throat during breeding season.
  • Short hind legs; hind feet have small knobs that help it burrow into the soil to hide. The Eastern American Toad leaps shorter distances than the frog.

Habitat and needs

  • Lives in gardens as well as deciduous and coniferous forests.
  • Adapts well to various surroundings.
  • Eats a wide variety of invertebrates: terrestrial insects, slugs, spiders, snails, and worms.
  • The female lays strings of eggs in pond water. A string may contain up to 20 000 eggs, although many are eaten by predators.
  • Fairs better than frogs in drought conditions because it stores water in its bladder.
  • Uses venom glands to defend itself from predators. The toad inflates its body and stands on its hind legs to appear more frightening. It will sometimes urinate on itself to be more repulsive.
  • Near the end of November, it burrows into the ground to hibernate. The hole must be deep enough to avoid freezing. The toad remains there until the beginning of April.
  • Does not drink water but rather absorbs moisture through the skin.
  • Can live up to ten years.

Relationship

  • Its mating call can be heard at night in May and June. Every year, toads return to their usual breeding grounds by the hundreds.
  • Gardeners and farmers like toads because they help them get rid of insects and other harmful invertebrates.
  • People do not catch warts by touching toads. However, a toad's secretions are toxic enough to warrant a good hand washing.

Living with them

  • Toads may urinate when being captured.

Participating cities where this animal has been seen