Eastern American Toad
Anaxyrus americanus

Common Name:

Eastern American Toad  

Scientific Name:

Anaxyrus americanus americanus



Anaxyrus is Greek meaning "A king or chief"


americanus refers to America


americanus refers to America

Average Length:

2 - 3.5 in. (5.1 - 9 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

4.4 in. (11.1 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This is a large toad ranging in size from 2 to 4.25 inches (50 to 107 mm) *1014* . Color is variable but is usually brown, gray, olive, or brick red. There is often a light middorsal stripe. One or two warts are present in each dorsal spot. Large spiny warts also cover the dorsal part of the hind legs, particularly the tibia. This toad has well-developed cranial crests and large parotoid glands *1014* *11407* . The parotoid gland is either separate from the ridge behind the eye or connected by a short spur. The chest and anterior portion of the abdomen are usually sprinkled with dark pigment *11407* . Males are smaller than females with tubercles on the first and second fingers and have dark throats *1014* . Tadpoles range from 3/4-1 inch (1.8-2.4 cm) with body/tail length ratio 1:1.3. Body is dark and somewhat flattened. Eyes are small and dorsal. This species closely resembles the southern toad and the Fowler's toad *11407* *1014*. These species frequently hybridize making identification difficult *1014*.

REPRODUCTION: This is the earliest toad species to breed in this area. The adults congregate in breeding pools starting in March or April *1014* . The male mating call is a long musical trill lasting 20-30 sec. Approximately 6000 eggs are laid in long spiral gelatinous strings *1014* . Eggs are externally fertilized while the male and female are joined in amplexus. Eggs are laid in shallow pools *11406* . Eggs hatch in about 1 week; tadpole metamorphosis occurs in about 2 months. These transformed toads are between 7 and 12 mm long. American toads are sexually mature in 2 to 3 years *11406*

BEHAVIOR: This species is found in a wide range of habitats. Requirements include shallow bodies of water for breeding, an abundances of invertebrate prey items, and moist hiding places. *11407* This species is primarily nocturnal but may also be active in the late afternoon. During the daytime, they mostly rest under logs or stones or burrow in leaf litter. This species is an effective insectivore *11284*.

ORIGIN: Native

LIMITING FACTORS: This species requires shallow bodies of water for breeding, a supply of invertebrate prey items, and moist hiding places *11407.


AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: This species can be found in a variety of habitats including mixed mesic forests, upland hardwoods, white pine-hemlock, residential gardens and agricultural lands *11284*.

References for Life History

  • 1014 - Martof, B.S., Palmer, W.M., Bailey, J.R., Harrison, III J.R., 1980, Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, 264 pgs., UNC Press, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 11284 - Wilson, L.A., 1995, Land manager's guide to the amphibians and reptiles of the South, 360 pp. pgs., The Nature Conservancy, Southeastern Region, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 11406 - Duellman, William E. and, Trueb, Linda, 1986, Biology of Amphibians, 671 pgs., The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore
  • 11407 - Conant, Roger and, Collins, John T., 1998, Peterson Field Guide: Reptiles and Amphibians, Eastern/Central North America, 616 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Company;, Boston


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