Frog of the Week

Great Plains Narrow Mouth Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea)

Great Plains Narrow Mouth Toad
pic from the National Park Service

Common Name: Great Plains Narrow Mouth Toad or Western Narrow Mouth Toad
Scientific Name: Gastrophryne olivacea
Family: Microhylidae
Location: Mexico and the United States
US States Location: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
Size: 0.8 – 1.5 inches (2 – 3.8 cm)

While the Great Plains Narrow Mouth Toad is called a toad, they are not considered a “true toad” from the family Bufonidae. “True Toads” have a parotoid gland behind their eye that contains their poison. The Narrow Mouthed Toads do not have this. The toads vary in color from gray, brown, and olive green. Males of the species usually have a dark, yellow throat. Their bellies are light in color with no markings, unlike the Eastern Narrowed Mouthed Toad. The toads have a pointed head that helps them eat ants and other small invertebrates. They even produce a toxin on their skin to help protect them from ant bites.

Great Plains Narrow Mouth Toad
photo by John Clare

The Great Plains Narrow Mouth Toad lives most of their life burrowed into the ground. They like to stay hidden the majority of the time and are nocturnal. The best time to see the toads is during the hot, summer rains. The toads come out to breed in temporary ponds made by these rains. The males call out from the shallows for females. Their call sounds like angry bees or sheep. Once the female arrives, the male grasps her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. Females can lay up to 600 eggs. Neither parent provides any parental care for their offspring.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the toad as Least Concern for Extinction. This is due to them having a wide range, presumed large population, and their ability to adapt to habitat disturbances.

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