There are three main things to consider when searching for toads in the USA: the type of toad you are looking for, the natural habitat where they thrive, and the region or locality in the USA where you can find the specific type of toad.
Over 300 species of toad thrive in the USA, and about 25 other Bufonidae or “true toad” species can be found across the country. According to Wildlife and Conservation Association studies performed in each state in the US, toads are found everywhere in America, including Alaska and Hawaii.
Toads spend most of the day hidden underground, or beneath rocks, leaves, and other natural shelters. They are nocturnal and can generally be found out in the open eating at night. Below we will uncover the easiest toads to find in some regions of the USA.
Northeastern Region: American Toad
The American Toad is common throughout the Eastern regions of the United States and can often be found in people’s backyards, gardens, and window wells. American Toads are generally medium-sized compared to other toads and can grow 2 to 4 inches.
The color of their skin generally adapts depending on the habitat, time of year, and temperature and can include yellow, brown, russet, and black. They have a long yellow or white line down their backs between their eyes and parotoid glands. American Toads hibernate during the Winter (CTNF).
Southeastern Region: Southern Toad
The Southern Toad is a true native of the United States residing in many areas of Southeastern Louisiana. It is found in most states across the eastern coastal states of the country from Virginia to as far south as Florida.
Nocturnal by nature, the Southern Toad spends its days burrowed into moist, sandy soil or beneath logs. It only ventures out at night to snare food such as crickets and other insects.
The Southern Toad hardly leaves its burrow during the winter and may choose to remain inactive for months. Southern Toads are tiny at around three and a half inches long and not easy to spot because of their brown coloration, which blends into their surroundings. When active in their habitat, the Southern Toad is recognizable by the following features:
- Its prominent bulging knobs (parotoid glands) on their heads above their eyes
- Its spiny warts that angle in the direction of their rear legs
- Colors of the Southern Toad vary from a mottled gray or reddish-brown to black sides and backs.
In Florida, the population of Southern Toad has declined due to the introduction of the Cane Toad in 1930 as an attempt to control agricultural pests in the sugar cane fields.
Check out our article with 10 Types of Frogs You Can Find in Florida
Southeastern Region: Cane Toad
Controlling agricultural pests in the Florida sugar cane fields is how this enormous, invasive toad acquired its name. Although commonly confused by other types of toads, the Cane Toad’s large size often gives it away. Other distinguishing features of the Cane Toad include:
- The ridges around its eyes
- Its vertical pupils with silver irises
- Its peanut-brittle brown skin
The Cane Toad is a prolific breeder and ferocious predator which is why Cane Toads are now considered an invasive species in many of the regions it was introduced. All toads are poisonous to pets but Cane Toad secretions can be highly toxic to humans.
Learn more about Cane Toads and how to deal with them in this guide on our blog.
Southwestern Region: Colorado River Toad
More prevalent in southern Colorado, southeastern California, New Mexico, and southeastern Arizona, the Colorado River Toad is considered a semi-aquatic amphibian. When looking for this toad, you need to focus your search on the banks of calm or pooling freshwater.
Known to be one of the larger species of toads, the Colorado River Toad can grow to nearly seven and a half inches long. The best time to find the Colorado River Toad is in the later evening hours. Like most toads, it is nocturnal, preferring to spend most of the day in the comfort of a rodent burrow and come out at dusk to forage.
This toad is recognizable by the following features:
- Its olive-green or mottled brown skin, which appears smooth and leathery
- Its golden eyes
- White wart on the side of its mouth and the backs of its legs
Colorado River Toad secretions can have psychedelic side effects when ingested and it is the most toxic native American toad aside from the Cane Toad. Someone in possession of this toad without a fishing license or with the intention of ingesting its secretions for recreational use could get arrested for possession of a controlled substance.
Learn more about poisonous frogs in our dedicated guide.
Southwestern Region: Arizona Toad
The Arizona Toad only resides in the southwest parts of Utah and Arizona and can be found in streams, irrigated croplands, or land adjacent to a water source. Adults rarely grow longer than two to three inches long, and like most toads, they remain burrowed during the day and come out at dusk to find prey.
Easily recognizable by its reddish-brown or mottled greenish-gray colors, The Arizona Toad has a light-colored stripe across its head. During the winter months, the Arizona Toad is inactive, hibernating in its burrow. Although the adult toads are predictably nocturnal, newly metamorphosed toads are active during the day.
More About Fining Toads in The USA
An article written and published in Scientific Reports in 2017 revealed that toads found in urban areas of the country had less toxicity than their cousins in the wild. In comparison, the report sites several hypotheses as to why. Part of their conclusion was that as the need to protect themselves lessened, so did their toxicity (CTNF).
You can find toads in the wild and in your backyard! Check out our guides on toads below to learn more:
- Where Do Toads Live?
- 14 Places to Find Toads in Your Yard
- 4 Easy Ways to Find Toads in The Wild
- 12 Types of Frogs You Can Find in Michigan
- 11 Types of Frogs You Can Find in Wisconsin
- 10 Frogs You Can Find In Georgia
- 10 Frogs You Can Find in Illinois
- 8 Types of Frogs You Can Find in Maine
- Can Toads Give You Warts?
- How to Attract Toads To Your Garden
- Where Can You Find Frogs in the USA?
Common Questions About Toads in The USA
What states do toads live in? You can find toads in every contiguous state in the USA as well as in Alaska, and Hawaii. Over 300 species of toad thrive in the USA, and about 25 other Bufonidae or “true toad” species can be found across the country.
Are toads poisonous? While all toads can secrete poison and are poisonous, only Cane Toads and Colorado River Toads are highly toxic to humans. However, all toads are highly poisonous to pets including cats and dogs.
Is the American toad poisonous? The American Toad is not poisonous to humans however their skin can carry salmonella and other diseases so 20 second-hand washing with soap after interacting with one is important. However, all toads including American Toads are poisonous to pets.
Can you eat American toads? As a general rule, you should not eat American toads or any other type of toad since they secrete poison and can carry salmonella. Only a few aquatic frog’s legs are edible and humans generally do not eat any other parts of a frog.
What eats an American toad? American Toads have many predators including birds, snakes, raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and other small mammals. Pets including cats and dogs are also predators, but toads can be dangerous or fatal to them if ingested.
Why are there toads in my yard? Generally, if you have toads in your yard it is because your yard presents an ideal habitat for toads including water, shelter, and food. Toads enjoy damp yards with places to hide and bugs.
Bókony, V., Üveges, B., Verebélyi, V. et al. Toads phenotypically adjust their chemical defences to anthropogenic habitat change. Sci Rep 9, 3163 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-39587-3