Common Name: Eastern American Toad

Scientific Name: Bufo americanus                 Order:  Anura (frogs and toads)


The American Toad, though predominantly nocturnal, is frequently encountered on the trail.  It is readily identifiable by the two enlarged glands (called parotoid glands) that are just behind each eye.  The other distinguishing features are the large brown warts that are on its back, each located on a black spot


Potpourri:   The parotoid glands secrete a viscous white poison that is a defense against predators.  The toxin causes nausea, irregular heartbeat and possibly death once it gets into the mouth and throat of the predator.  This can be a problem for pet dogs, who may attack toads and for humans, who handle them.  The hands should be carefully washed after handling a toad.  Toads, however, do not cause warts, they have them.


The American Toad is a prodigious insect eater, capable of consuming over 100 insects in a single night.  The insects are captured by the wide and sticky tongue.


The female lays  between 2,000 and 20,000 eggs that are light on the bottom  and dark  on the top to blend in with the background. The eggs hatch in 3-12 days into tadpoles that have gills.  The tadpoles stay in the water for 40-70 days.  During this time, they grow hind legs (20 days), front legs (30-40 days), and begin to breath, ultimately metamorphosing to a land-dwelling animal.


Toads lose their skin every other week while growing, and about four times a year when fully grown.  The skin comes off in one piece, is collected by the toad under the tongue, and then eaten.  Therefore, you never find "toad-skins" on the trail.

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