American Toad

American Toads are divided in 3 subspecies including Eastern American, Dwarf American and the rare Hudson Bay Toads. These toads are brown, gray, russet, tan, and olive depending on their environment. American Toads have are generally 2 to 3.5 inches long and can live up to 30 years in captivity.

Common NameAmerican Toad
Other NamesEastern American toad, Dwarf American toad
Scientific NameAnaxyrus Americanus (A. a. Americanus; A. a. Charlesmithi; A. a. copei)
LocationsNorth America
CharacteristicsEastern American Toad: Brown, gray, red, tan, and olive in color, with yellow or tan accents, sporadic dark spots over the body, and a light stripe along the torso. They have dense and wart covered skin. 
Dwarf American Toad: Dark or light reddish color and reduced or absent spots. They have a dark lateral stripe and a deep valley between prominent crests. 
Hudson Bay Toad: Rare, Red on their sides and many warts.
Origin Nearctic region
Conservation StatusLeast concern
Family Bufonidae
Genus Anaxyrus
Species A. Americanus
Poisonous Yes
Maximum Length 2 – 3.5 inches
Average Lifespan1 – 10 years in the wild, Up to 30 years in captivity

American Toads have dry skin, and are covered in warts by warts on the legs and back. This species has a swollen parotoid gland behind each eye and separated postorbital ridges, frequently connected by a spur. Their skin colors may change based on stress levels, temperature, and the environment’s appearance or living conditions.

American Toads can be found in three specific subspecies: the Eastern American and Dwarf American Toad. The Eastern American Toad is medium-sized, with few warts. The Dwarf American Toad is smaller with a dark lateral stripe on their backs. Hudson Bay Toads can be found in Northern Ontario, Canada are very rare and are a result of inbreeding.

Keeping American Toads as “Pets”

Wild pet toad
My Pet “Toady”

American Toads are my favourite animal and as a child I had a wild “pet” American Toad in my yard. It never came inside, I never had to feed it or pick it up. It roamed our yard, kept our window wells super clean, and enjoyed its best toad life free to go wherever it wanted.

Since American Toads are very adaptable, it is easy to attract them to your yard and care for them as pets. Ways to care for them include keeping predators like skunks, racoons and your pets away from your yard or the areas where they live.

You can also attract bugs by composting, leaving solar lights on at night, creating a toad hibernaculum, and abundant shelter so your toad feels right at home.

We have many tips on how to attract toads to your yard and to care for toads as wild “pets.”

Tips on How To Spot American Toads

American Toads live in terrestrial habitats and are not opposed to open fields and pastures or residential areas. The habitat should contain leaf litter, sandy or loamy soil, moist hiding spots, and plenty of food sources. 

Adequate water bodies include ponds, roadside ditches, or lake edges, provided that fish don’t inhabit these areas. Thankfully, this amazing toad species is fairly easy to catch a glimpse of, as they live in a broad range of places throughout different areas in America and are often found in backyards.

To find American toads:

  • Look for areas with semi-permanent freshwater ponds or pools, as this species likes to have shallow water available for breeding and water supply in times of drought. 
  • Look in areas that have dense vegetation patches, as they use it for hunting and cover.
  • Keep an eye on the weather, as American Toads come out when it rains to take advantage of worms and insects which leave their burrows.
  • You will have a better chance of looking for them at night since they are nocturnal. 
  • Check your window wells and save the toad, especially if it is dry, rocky or in full sun.

This incredible toad species can adapt to their environments with great skill and ability, making it quite straightforward to survive over time. As a result, they have even managed to popularize many agricultural and suburban areas. 

Interesting American Toad Facts

  • Toads burrow most of the day and come out to eat at night.
  • The oldest documented American Toad lived for 36 years in captivity.
  • American Toads may be confused with Canadian Toads but can be differentiated by the cranial crests.
  • American Toads use posture, touch, and chemical cues for communication.
  • Adult American Toads can eat up to 1,000 insects every day.
  • To make themselves less appealing to predators, toads may urinate or inflate their bodies with air.

Questions Related to American Toads 

What do American Toads Sound Like? The call of a male American Toad is a high trill, which can be compared to the sound of a ringing telephone. The sound is quite loud, and their vocal sacs puff out like balloons while calling. Females are not silent, but they are generally more quiet. 

What do American Toads Eat? American Toads are carnivores and feed on small prey. Their primary food sources include moths, slugs, ants, earthworms, crickets, mealworms, spiders, centipedes, and other small invertebrates. Tadpoles feed on aquatic vegetation. 

How Long Do American Toads Make Noise? Male American Toads will voice their mating calls throughout the breeding season and will go quiet when they hibernate in Winter. Each call will last for around 4 – 20 or 6 – 30 seconds, depending on the subspecies. 

Are American Toads Endangered? American Toads are not endangered, are very adaptable and thrive in a wide range of conditions making it much easier for them to survive. They have been listed as ‘least concern’ with regard to the species’ endangerment. 

Can You Keep an American Toad as a Pet? American Toads are popular as pets but the best way to care for them is as wild, outdoor “pets” and to simply observe them in your yard living their best lives. Keeping a toad inside can be expensive, demanding and less fun for the owner and toad.

How Big Do American Toads Get? American Toads grow to around 2 inches, but they can get larger depending on environment, genetics, health, and diet. The largest American Toad discovered measured 4.4 inches in length.

How Many Babies Do American Toads Have? Female American Toads lay 2000 to 8000 eggs in two rows. The eggs transform into tadpoles around 3 – 12 days in ideal temperatures. Surviving tadpoles generally develop for 40 – 70 days and reach full sexual maturity after 2 – 3 years.

More About American Toads

American Toads may not be the most bright and vibrant species. But, they are incredibly diverse and adaptive to their environments. Fortunately, you may be able to catch a glimpse of this interesting toad species’ everyday activities by understanding their behaviors and searching within their preferred habitats or regions.

Learn more about American Toads on our site:

Sources

Conant, Roger, and Joseph T. Collins. A Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

Dickerson, M. 1906. The Frog. NY: Doubleday, Page and Company.

Harding, J. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA: The University of Michigan Press.

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group (2015). “Anaxyrus americanus”. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2015: e.T54570A56843565. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T54570A56843565.en.