Common Name: Great Plains Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus cognatus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Canada, Mexico, the United States
US Locations: Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming
Size: 2 – 4.5 inches (5 – 11.43 cm)
The adult Great Plains Toad spends most of its life burrowed underground. They are nocturnal so the best time to see them is at night when they are foraging for food above ground. Toads have been seen out of their burrows during the day during rains or just after. They can also be seen outside their burrows during the mating season. When the heavy spring rains come, the toads emerge from their burrows and move to their breeding area.
The breeding season is generally between March and September but in the northern part of the range, its restricted to May to July. The Great Plains Toad breed in a variety of habitats such as temporary pools, slow streams, holding ponds, and irrigation ditches. The toads prefer temporary bodies of water but will use permanent bodies. Males call from the shores to attract females. Females approach males that they deem fit and mating happens. The male will grasp the female from behind in the amplexus position. The female will then lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The females can lay up to 20,000 eggs at a time. After the female lays her clutches of eggs, both the male and female leave the eggs on their own.
Eggs hatch in under a week and the tadpoles begin to undergo metamorphosis between 17 and 45 days. Metamorphism happens rather quickly due to the Great Plains Toad’s preference for temporary pools and the fear of the pools drying out before the toads finish undergoing their metamorphism.
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