Toads are shy, usually nocturnal animals, hiding during the day in dark, damp places and hopping about at night in
search of insects, grubs, slugs, worms, and other invertebrates. They are often brownish or grayish in color and have warty
skin; a flat head; swollen parotid glands on the side of the neck behind the eyes; bright, jewel-like eyes with a transverse
pupil; and slightly webbed toes. They are often stouter than frogs and cannot leap as far. The tongue of the toad is attached
to the front of its mouth. The tongue is flicked forward from the mouth, and the sticky tip grasps the prey and carries it
back to the mouth. Unlike most frogs, most toads do not have teeth. The tongue produces quantities of mucus to help in swallowing.
All anurans blink when they swallow; and, because no bone exists between the eye and the mouth, the eye is pushed against
the roof of the mouth, forcing the food further back.
A Toad’s Life
Toads are mostly nocturnal, resting during the day in burrows, in trees, or under leaves, undected unless they leap
out from under your feet. Toads will also hibernate in burrows. In spring they mate, and the females lay their eggs in the
water in gelatinous strings that are 4 ft. or more in length. These strands are usually double strands, where frog eggs are
laid in clumps. There are some toads that are the only types of anurans to bear live young! Toads tend to lay many eggs because
there are many hazards between fertilization and becoming full-grown. In captivity, many species of frogs and toads can live
for surprisingly long times. They seem generally to average somewhere between 4 and 15 years. But the Common (European) Toad
lived up to 40 years. Their tongues produce quantities of mucus to help in swallowing. And because no bone exists between
the eye and the mouth, the eye is pushed against the roof of the mouth, forcing the food further back. The parotoid glands,
the swellings behind the eyes, are a defense against predators. These glands secrete fluids that are toxic if taken internally.
Both toads and frogs
are carnivores, which means they eat other animals. Toads, unlike us, are cold-blooded. People think toads can give you warts,
but they can’t. They think they can give you warts because toads have bumps on their heads that look warts but it isn’t
true. Toads are part of the Bufonidae family. The Bufonidae family has over 300 species.
What Toads Eat
Toads are carnivores, they eat other animals. Toads eat insects, grubs, slugs, worms, and other invertebrates like
other amphibians do. As tadpoles, they eat plants. Toads, as pets, will eat fruit or vegetables. But toads in the garden eat
Where toads live
Toads live all around the world except Greenland,
Australia, New Guinea, New
and the Polar Regions. But they are most abundant in the
tropical regions. Toads
can live farther from water sources than frogs can because they have tougher skin that doesn't dry out as fast as a frog's
skin would. In temperate regions, toads hibernate in burrows. In spring they
mate, and the females lay their numerous ova in pools in gelatinous strings 1.2 m (4 ft) or more in length. The tadpoles are
smaller and darker than those of frogs and do not accomplish their transformation into terrestrial toads until autumn.
Male toads (and frogs) are not particularly
bright when it comes to sex. They'll attempt to mate with anything that moves, including other males and floating leaves.
Eventually they'll figure out they've made a mistake and try again with a different target. When they finally find a female,
they'll climb on her back so that they can fertilize her eggs as she lays them. This mating grasp is called amplexus.
Male frogs have specially adapted thumbs so that they can hang
on to the female's back even if she gets bored and tries to hop away. The male
frog also needs to hang on tightly to the female because sometimes more males try to join in the fun in a kind of
Most toads (and frogs) need to lay their
eggs in water. Each female lays thousands of eggs at a time, in strings or slimy masses. The eggs hatch into tadpoles, which
look very different from adult toads (or frogs). The tadpoles live exclusively in the water and breathe through gills instead
of lungs like an adult toad (or frog). The tadpoles have a tail for swimming instead of legs and arms for hopping. Tadpoles
have also a small rasping mouth for scraping algae off the bottom of the pond instead of the wide mouth and strong jaws suited
to the adult toad's (or frog's) carnivorous diet. The process of changing from a tadpole into an adult toad (or frog) is called
metamorphosis. Depending on the species, it can take a few weeks to a year or more for the tadpoles to grow up. Toads
(and frogs) who live in dry places where rains are seasonal have to grow up quickly because the tadpoles will die if their
temporary ponds dry up first.
Some kinds of toads (and frogs) have different
ways to raise their families. In some species, the eggs hatch directly into little toad lets (or frog lets) and there is no
tadpole stage at all. One kind of tree frog builds hanging
nests; the tadpoles drop into water below as they hatch. The Surinam Toad is probably
the weirdest of all: it carries its tadpoles around in a built-in nest in the spongy skin on its back.
Toads belong to the order Anura of the class Amphibia. The genus that includes more than 200 species
is Bufo of the family Bufonidae. The giant toad is classified as Bufo marinus. The American toad is classified as Bufo americanus
and the southern toad as Bufo terrestris. Midwife toads make up the genus Alytes of the family Discoglossidae.
Green Toad is most often active at twilight but frequently will forage during the day following heavy rains. When threatened,
it flattens itself against the ground. The reason that toads like the Green Toad can survive in dry climates is their unique
system of absorbing water from the soil. Toads have a "seat patch" (you can see it when you look at their lower bellies),
which is an area of skin that has the ability to draw moisture from the soil in which they sit. Toads never need to drink
Western Toad is typical of many species in the true toad family -- plump and warty and found on land much of the year. Like
many toads, the females lay tremendous numbers of eggs -- about 12,000 -- in two long strands in the water. This is the only
true toad through much of the Northwest and it is active even when temperatures are as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wherever the Cane Toad is introduced, whether to Florida or Australia or somewhere else, it becomes a
nuisance within a short time. It breeds year-round and its populations can get enormous very quickly. Speaking of enormous,
this is the largest toad and can weigh up to 4 pounds. One of the biggest ever found in the United States was nicknamed Jabba
the Toad, after the Star Wars character. Cane Toads are active mostly at night.
Wilderness areas, city parks, and most habitats in between are home to the familiar American Toad.
Depending on location, these toads breed from February to July. Their trills, given both day and night, will lead you to them.
American Toads are easily approached and watched when trilling. As with other toads, handling them will not give you warts.
This helpful toad eats lots of insects.
At the twilight hour, when the red glow is fading from the western sky, watch for Red-spotted Toads climbing
up onto rocks and boulders at the edges of a pond or spring. Here they begin their nightly activities, which include calling
and feeding. These rock-climbing toads have flattish bodies that help them squeeze into and under crevices.
During the evening after a good soaking rain, between April and September, Texas Toads will march across
the damp, southwestern plains to small pools and water holes, looking for mates. One of these pools of water can turn into
a swarming mass of Texas Toads in just a few hours.
The Southern Toad spends the day inside its burrow and comes out at night to feed. It is often found in
suburban areas, near houses and mowed lawns, where it feeds on insects drawn to night-lights. Like other toads, this species
has large warts behind its eyes. The poison glands in these warts produce large amounts of a bad-tasting secretion. That's
why toads often lower their head and arch their neck forward when disturbed. In this position a predator is likely to taste
the poison first and is more likely to leave the toad alone.
Every amphibian has its favorite hours of activity, and many amphibians are most active
at night, when it is safer for them to roam around. The Oak Toad, however, is most often seen during daylight hours. This
is the smallest North American toad. Watch for it rummaging around in ground litter and debris.
This is the toad commonly seen at night catching insects beneath lights. Occasionally it is
active during the day, but more frequently remains in its burrow or hides in vegetation. After rains these toads breed in
shallow water that may last for only a few weeks. Their eggs, laid in long strings, hatch into jet black tadpoles that feed
in warm shallow water and develop very quickly.
Great Plains Toad
This toad is primarily nocturnal (active at night), but is sometimes found foraging on cloudy,
rainy days. It prefers loose soil where burrowing is easy. When in danger, it inflates its body, closes it eyes, and lowers
its head to the ground. It is a voracious predator of cutworms, which cause extensive crop damage.
Colorado River Toad
This huge toad survives in one of the places where you would least expect to find amphibians
-- the desert. It does this by spending most days deep underground and venturing into the desert at night to feed. In some
areas, this species may not breed for several years in a row, but after heavy rains the tadpoles can be found in small creeks
and temporary pools.
Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad
All narrow-mouthed toads spend a lot of their time underground, but if you look under boards
and other ground debris, you are bound to find one eventually. When you do, you will see a strange-looking, pointed toad running
to get out of sight. Often these toads can be spotted at night, when they are prowling around looking for their favorite food