Frog of the Week

Mexican Burrowing Toad (Rhinophrynus dorsalis)

Mexican Burrowing Toad
Mexican Burrowing Toad – photo by Vicente Mata-Silva

Common Name: Mexican Burrowing Toad
Scientific Name: Rhinophrynus dorsalis
Family: Rhinophrynidae
Country Location: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the United States
United States Locations: Texas
Size: 3 – 3.3 inches (75-85 mm)

The Mexico Burrowing Toad is most evolutionary distinct species of frogs, with over a 190 million years of independent evolution. It is believed that the a fruit bat, polar bear, killer whale, kangaroo and human are more evolutionary similar than the Mexican Burrowing Toad to any other frog. It is the only living species in the family Rhinophyrnidae, while the rest of them died out millions of years ago.

photo by Ashley Tubbs

As their name says, they are burrowing toads that live underground during the dry season. They have several adaptations to their underground life. They have strong hind legs with tubercles to help them with digging.  Their weird nose helps them eating termites and ants, their primary food sources.

During the wet season, the toad emerges from their burrows to breed. The males call in temporary pools of water created by the rains, trying to attract mates. The females are larger than the males. Once the female selects their mate, the male embraces her and grasps her around the waist (inguinal amplexus). Then, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. The female only lays between 6 – 12 eggs. Afterwards, they leave the water body, letting their offspring fend for themselves. The eggs don’t take long to hatch and the tadpoles complete their metamorphism in one to three months.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Mexican Burrowing Toad as Least Concern for Extinction. While the toad is rare in Texas, they are common throughout Central America.

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