Frog of the Week

Houston Toad (Anaxyrus houstonensis)

Houston Toad
photo by Dr Robert Thomas

Common Name: Houston Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus houstonensis
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Location: United States – Texas
Maximum Size: 3 inches (7.62 cm) for females, 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) for males

The Houston Toad are not the best burrowers in the toad world, so they stick to sandy soils which are easier for them to burrow in. Like most toads, the Houston Toad stays burrowed during the day and comes out at night to feed.

The toad breeds anywhere between late January to June but most breeding occurs before May. Breeding is triggered by heavy rains with warm temperatures. The toads come out of their burrows and migrate to pools, ponds, or flooded fields to breed. The water bodies are either freshly filled with rain water or permanent water bodies that are fish-less. The males call for their females with their bright blue colored throat. Once the female selects a mate, they embrace of amplexus. Then, the female lays her eggs and the males fertilizes them. The female lays between 2,000 – 6,000 eggs at a time. Eventually, the eggs then hatch into tadpoles in 48 hours and then take 2 to 7 weeks to complete their metamorphosis into toads.

photo by Paige Najvar / USFWS

Houston Toad Conservation

The Houston Toad is federally listed as an endangered species by the US government as well as being listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. It is only found between Houston and Austin areas in Texas. The development of these large cities are the main reason why the toad’s populations are dying out. The destruction of their habitat for agriculture is another reason.

There are programs working to save the species. The Houston Zoo maintains a captive breeding facilities. Each year, they release thousands of eggs a year to help repopulate the wild populations.

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