What Types of Toads Can You Find in Canada?

From Alberta to Saskatchewan, Nunavut to the Yukon, Canada is home to several awesome species of toads. They inhabit the prairies and forests and can be distinctly heard as an integral part of nature’s symphony across Canada.

There are around 580 species of toads on Earth. Canada is home to only 7 of those species due to the harsh climate and habitat. The 7 toad species found in Canada are:

  • Western Toad
  • American Toad
  • Canadian Toad
  • Great Plains Toad
  • Fowler’s Toad
  • Plains Spadefoot Toad
  • Great Basin Spadefoot Toad

Keep reading below to discover where to find the wild toads that are specific to all of the Canadian provinces and territories, and for tips on how to conserve the habitats required to keep these amphibians off of the endangered species list.

Seven Species of Wild Toads in Canada

Each toad has different coloring, identifying features, and specific habitat and climate, which makes them easy to spot.

ToadIdentifying FeaturesHabitat
Western ToadGreen or Brown with a large stripe down the center of the back
Dry, warty skin
Boreal forest, alpine, and sub-alpine environments
Ponds, streams rivers
Loose, moist soil or rodent burrows
American ToadBrown back, yellow belly
Warty with colored spots
Prominent cranial crests
Mown grass, gardens
Heavily forested areas
Prefer rocks, leaves, logs
Ponds during mating season
Fowler’s ToadYellow, green, or brown with a light stripe down the middle and large dark blotches
Prominent cranial crests
Sandy shorelines
Marshes
Great Plains ToadPale brown-grey to olive with dark blotches and small warts 
Cranial crests form an L shape around eyes to fuse between the eyes into a V
Grassland dweller
River floodplains
Irrigation canals, dugouts
Temporary pools to breed
Great Basin Spadefoot ToadGray or olive green
Bumpy, not warty, skin
Black “spade” on the first toe of the hindfoot
Dry grasslands, open woodlands
Pothole ponds
Irrigation waters
Roadside ditches
Prefers bare mud, grasses, forbs
Plains Spadefoot ToadGray to brown with overtones of green and small scattered orange bumps
Vertical pupil
Horny, sharp, dark-edged knob on the hindfoot
Shortgrass prairie
Loose, dry, sandy, gravel soil Breeds in ponds formed by rainstorms
Canadian ToadBrown to grey-green with reddish warts surrounded by black spots
A light line down the center of the back
parotoid glands are oval or kidney-shaped
Prairies and aspen parkland
Sparsely in the boreal forest
Ponds, lakes, potholes

If you choose to handle a wild toad, take care to avoid their parotoid glands as they secret a poisonous toxin that can cause harm if not handled properly.

Types of Toads You Can Find in Canada

Not all regions are inhabited by all seven species of toads. In fact, Yukon and Nova Scotia are two of seven regions that can only claim one wild toad as its own. Below is an inclusive list of all provinces and territories with their respective toads.

Province/TerritoryToad Species
YukonWestern Toad
Northwest TerritoriesWestern Toad
American Toad
NunavutAmerican Toad
AlbertaWestern Toad
Canadian Toad
Great Plains Toad
Plains Spadefoot Toad
British ColumbiaWestern Toad
Great Basin Spadefoot Toad
ManitobaAmerican Toad
Canadian Toad
Great Plains Toad
Plains Spadefoot Toad
New BrunswickAmerican Toad
Newfoundland and LabradorAmerican Toad
Nova ScotiaAmerican Toad
OntarioAmerican Toad
Fowler’s Toad
Prince Edward IslandAmerican Toad
QuebecAmerican Toad
SaskatchewanCanadian Toad
Great Plains Toad
Plains Spadefoot Toad

If you have toads in your yard and want to get rid of them see this article. If you want to encourage them to stay in your yard, keep on reading.

Where Can You Find Toads in Canada?

Wild toads can be found near ponds and calm water during mating season, which is typically May through July in Canada. During the Summer, toads can be found in fields, yards, gardens, and forested areas across Canada. They burrow during the day and are active at night. Toads hibernate during Winter.

As Spring transitions into Summer, many frogs and toads can be found near ponds and streams as the breeding season is in full swing. Though you might hear the trill of a wild toad while enjoying the aftermath of a summer rainstorm, in the winter, you will likely not find, see, or hear a toad since it is sure to be burrowed underground, avoiding the extreme temperatures (CTNF).

Toads are very common in people’s backyards across Canada. I found one in a window well as a kid and made it an ideal home to keep it as a wild pet. But not all window wells are good places for toads. I explain why in the video below.

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 Wild toads in Canada are dispersed throughout all Canadian regions based on three main factors:

  • Climate – Wild Toads thrive in climates around 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C). They tend to avoid extreme cold or extreme heat by burrowing underground.
  • Habitat – From heavily forested areas to vast prairies, each species of toad has its ideal habitat based on the evolution of certain body parts such as some toe webbing or thicker skin.
  • Season – May to July, and sometimes as early as March, is the breeding season for all wild toads. They will migrate to areas with shallow ponds and lakes to breed and will likely return to their previous habitat on land once the season is over.

Toads like to hide in thick brush, debris, or underground to protect themselves against harsh weather or predators during the day. They are nocturnal and generally eat at night.

Learn more about how to find toads in this article on our blog.

Conserving Natural Toad Habitats

It is important that we do our parts to help conserve the natural habitats of wild toads. Drought and wetland drainage, deforestation, and real estate development pose major threats to most places that wild toads call home.  Here is a list of things you can do to help protect these amphibians and prevent them from landing on the endangered species list.

  • Add a pond to your garden to encourage breeding in a safe environment.
  • Pile up rocks and logs to provide shelter from harsh weather and predators
  • Transform your window well into the perfect toad home
  • Create a compost pile to help feed wild toads
  • Try not to use pesticides, as they are harmful to toads when consumed which could cause abnormalities.

While you cannot do much about deforestation, providing a safe place for toads in your backyard garden could help keep their population thriving.

Attracting Wild Toads to Your Garden

If you are wanting to attract wild toads to your backyard garden, there are certain steps you can take to encourage their presence. I had a wild pet toad as a child and learned so much about them in their natural habitat.

By keeping toads in your garden, they can assist you with keeping your plants free of harmful insects and pests. Though they might have a loud shrill during mating season while they are attracting their potential mates, it will not last the entire year. They will likely hibernate during the winter to provide relief from their unwanted symphony.

Learn more about how to attract toads to your garden in this article on our blog.

More About Finding Toads in Canada

In your search for wild toads, starting at the nearest shallow pond or stream will likely be successful. Keep in mind to be careful when handling and do your best to conserve their natural habitat. If you find yourself with an influx of wild toads in your backyard, try not to eradicate them, as they are helping the ecosystem and providing a pest relief service for free (CTNF).

Sources

NatureWatch.ca

Government of Canada