Toad Tuesday

Western European Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates cultripes)

Jean-Laurent Hentz

Common Name: Western European Spadefoot Toad, Iberian Spadefoot Toad, Spanish Spadefoot Toad, and Wagler’s Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Pelobates cultripes
Family: Pelobatidae – European Spadefoot Toad Family
Locations: France, Portugal, and Spain
Size: 4.9 inches (12.5 cm)

The Western European Spadefoot Toad gets its name due to the spades on its rear feet. The toad uses these spades to burrow down in the ground, over 7 inches deep. They prefer habitat with sandy soils or loosely compact soils since its easier to dig there. The toad is nocturnal so it is hard to find but they often come to the surface after rains.

The Western European Spadefoot Toad breeds from October to May. Males will call from temporary pools to attract females. Females will sometimes call too. Once the female selects a mate, the male will grasp the female frog behind in amplexus. The female will then lay her eggs and the males will fertilize them. Females will lay between 1000 – 4000 eggs. The tadpoles take 4 to 6 months to complete their metamorphism.

The Western Spadefoot Toad is listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The habitat they call home is being destroyed for more urban development. Introduced species, such as the Louisiana Crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) and the Eastern Mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki), feed on the tadpoles and eggs, decreasing their population.

Toad Tuesday

Mount Nimba Viviparous Toad(Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis)

Mount Nimba Viviparous Toad
photo by Laura Sandberger-Loua
critically endangered

Common Name: Mount Nimba Viviparous Toad
Scientific Name: Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Liberia
Size:1.1 inches (28.7 mm)

The Mount Nimba Viviparous Toad spends their time during the dry season (November to March) underground and dormant. The frogs come to the surface once the rains begin. For mating, the males call anytime during the wet season but prefer September. As the name suggests, they are one of the only viviparous species of toads in the world. Viviparaous means that the female toad gives birth to live toadlets instead of laying eggs like most frogs and toads. The female gives birth to between 4-35 toadlets.

There are two subspecies of the Mount Nimba Viviparous Toad – Western Nimba Toad (Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis occidentalis) and the Liberia Nimba Toad (Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis liberiensis). There are some key differences between the two. For example, the Western Nimba Toad is significantly smaller than the Liberia Nimba Toad. Also, the Liberia Nimba Toad is found in Liberia while the Western Nimba Toad is found in Guinea and the Cote d’Ivoire.

The Mount Nimba Viviparous Toad is listed as critically endangered due to mining operations by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Sadly, the spot where the toad was first found has become an open mining pit.

Toad Tuesday

Amargosa Toad (Anaxyrus nelsoni)

Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Amargosa Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus nelsoni
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: United States – Nevada
Size: 3.5 – 5 inches (90 – 127 mm)

The Amargosa Toad is found in the Oasis Valley along the Amargosa River, hence the name. Its species epithet –  nelsoni is in honor of Edward William Nelson (May 8, 1855 – May 19, 1934), an American naturalist. The toad has an extremely small range, so it is considered to be endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list but is not on the United States Endangered Species list. Locals are working to help restore the populations of the toads to avoid it being listed as an endangered species. The cause of the declines of the toads are due to habitat loss and the introduction of invasive species such as the American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeianus) and crayfish.

Interesting fact about the Amargosa Toad is that the males do not call to attract females for breeding. Breeding season for the toads goes from February to April.

Toad Tuesday

Arroya Toad (Anaxyrus californicus)

photo by USFWS
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Arroya Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus californicus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Location: California
Size: 3 inches (7.6 cm)

The Arroya Toad is only found in southern California and Baja California in Mexico. It is listed as a federally endangered species by the United States federal government. It has been estimated that the toad has lost 75% of its original range due to humans. Much of their habitat has been ruined due to damming of creeks and off roading activities. Invasive species introduced into to the toad’s environment such as American Bull Frog and trouts have feasted on them. These threats must be handled to save the species.

photo by USFWS

The Arroya Toad has a typical breeding behavior for a toad. Breeding takes place from March to the end of July. The male toads release high calls to attract the females from shallow water bodies. Eventually, the toads meet up and the male will grasp the female in amplexus. The female releases over 4000 eggs and the male will fertilize them. It takes over two months for the tadpoles to develop into toads. Neither parent provides any care for their offspring.

Toad Tuesday

Southern Toad (Anaxyrus terrestris)

Southern Toad photo by Norman Benton
least concern

Common Name: Southern Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus terrestris
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia
Female Size: 1.7 – 3.6 inches (44 – 92 mm)
Male Size: 1.6 – 3.2 inches (42 – 82 mm)

The Southern Toad is your typical toad. It is nocturnal and hides in burrows or under rocks or logs during the day. The toad varies in color from reddish brown to dark brown and to gray. They can appear similar to the Cane Toad (Rhinella marina), an invasive species. The Southern Toad has two larger ridges behind their eyes.

In the spring / late winter, the toads migrate to a variety of different water bodies, including lakes, ponds, ditches and canals, to breed. The toads breed in temporary and permanent water sources. The males will call from shallow waters close to shore to attract their mates. The males will embrace the female in amplexus and the female will lay her eggs. Around 2500 – 4000 eggs are laid. Neither of the parents will provide any care from the eggs. The eggs hatch in two to four days and complete metamorphism in one or two months.

Toad Tuesday

Evergreen Toad (Incilius coniferus)

photo by Brian Gratwicke

least concern

Common Name: Green Climbing Toad, Evergreen Toad
Scientific Name: Incilius coniferus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Locations: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Panama
Male Size: 2 – 2.8 inches (53-72 mm)
Female Size: 3 – 3.7 inches (76-94 mm)

The Evergreen Toad is different than most toads in that it climbs trees and vines, making it semi arboreal. Its been reporter that they can climb at least three feet high. They don’t breed in the trees, like in some species of tree frogs, but in shallow pools and ponds like most toad species. This happens during the dry season from December to April. The males will call from the shallows of these water bodies to attract the females. Once the females arrive, the males will grasp the females from behind in the amplexus position. After the eggs are laid, it takes them about five days to hatch into tadpoles. The tadpoles take 33 days to undergo metamorphism.

photo by Sean Michael Rovito

While the Evergreen Toad is only listed as Least Concern, that could change. They are naturally found in wet lowland and moist forests areas along the Pacific Coast of Central and South America. These areas are in danger of being destroyed for logging and urban development. Luckily, some of these areas are protected by their governments.

Toad Tuesday

Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus)

photo by William Flaxington
least concern

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.

photo by John P Clare

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.

Toad Tuesday

Yosemite Toad (Anaxyrus canorus)

yosemite toad
photo by William Flaxington
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Yosemite Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus canorus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: United States – California
Size: 3.3 inches (84 mm)

The Yosemite Toad lives in the central Sierra Nevada mountain range at elevations between 8,500 – 10,000 feet. These toads are a diurnal species, active during the day compared to most toads, that are active at nocturnal. They live long for a toad species, capable of living 15 years. The trade-off is that toads take a while to reach sexual maturity, over 3 years.

Breeding season is from May to August. Typical breeding sites are shallow pools and small, slow moving streams. The males travel to these ponds once the breeding season start. Then, they will start to call to attract the female. Once the female arrives, the male grasps her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The female is capable of laying between 15000 to 2000 eggs. These females do not mate every year, another trade-off from their long lives. Neither of the parents provide any care for their offspring. The males and female toads look very different compared to each other.

Yosemite Toad Conservation

The Yosemite Toad is listed as a federally threatened species by the United States government. It is most likely going to be added to the endangered species list. The toad is already listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. There are a lot of reasons for the decline in the toad’s population numbers. Habitat degradation by cattle grazing is one of the main reasons. Other reasons include the introduction of non-native game fish, droughts increased by climate change, and possibly climate change. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) designated 1.8 million acres of land as a protected area for the Yosemite Toad and other threatened species.

Toad Tuesday

Black Toad (Anaxyrus exsul)

photo by Scott Trageser

Common Name: Black Toad, Inyo Toad, and Deep Springs Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus exsul
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: United States – California
Size: 1.75 – 3 inches (44.45 – 76.2 mm)

The Black Toad lives in the Deep Springs Valley in Inyo County in California, which explains some of its other names. They are found near springs, marshes, ponds, and bogs as they are more aquatic than most toad species. Breeding takes place in these water bodies from March into May. The male toads do not make a mating call to attract females.  The mating pairs go through the usual toad mating with amplexus, ending with laying eggs in the shallow water. The eggs hatch in under 5 days. The larval phase of the toad doesn’t last long, between 3 and 5 weeks long.

The Black Toad is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List due to their small range. Their whole range is on the property of the Deep Springs Valley College. The college grazes their livestock in the area during the winter, when the toads are hibernating, to not disturb the toads. They also take care of the vegetation in the area and protect the streams.

Toad Tuesday

Eastern Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates syriacus)

photo by  Omid Mozaffari
least concern

Common Name: Eastern Spadefoot Toad, Syrian Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Pelobates syriacus
Family: Pelobatidae – European Spadefoot Toad
Locations: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Syria, and Turkey
Size: 3.5 inches (8.89 cm)

The Eastern Spadefoot Toad is found in Eastern Europe and in Western Asia. Like all spadefoot toads, they have an inner metatarsal tubercle aka the spade on their rear feet. The Eastern Spadefoot Toad’s spade is yellow in color. They use these spades to burrow deep into the ground but they can also use rodent burrows. They come out of these burrows to hunt at night, eating insects, spiders, mollusks, and arthropods.

They breed from February to May depending on latitude. The males will start calling from temporary water bodies such as river or lakeside temporary water bodies or large permanent pools. Once the female arrives, the male will grasp her from behind in amplexus. Then, the female will lay between 5500-6500 egg while the male frog fertilizes them. Neither parent will provide any parental care for their offspring. Depending on locations, the tadpoles will either complete their metamorphosis by the fall or overwinter and complete it next spring.