American Toad 
Anaxyrus americanus 

The American toad lives in eastern states of America and Canada.  There are three subspecies:

  • Eastern American
  • Dwarf American
  • Rare Hudson Bay toad.  The Hudson Bay toad is more colorful than the american and dwarf american toads, having a red stripe down its back and an orange belly.

What do they eat?

The adult  has a great and healthy appetite and will basically eat whatever will fit into its mouth, be that little insects or a multitude of  invertebrates.  As a matter of fact, they are very welcome in most peoples' gardens because of their ability to consume huge amounts of insect pests that visit gardens and destroy plants and vegetables, so if you have some in your garden, be very grateful to this toad for helping you out with your garden maintenance.  And he never complains!

American Toad warty and huge but beautiful singer!

Wonderfully warty American Toad
Image by Bernell MacDonald from Pixabay

How long do they live?

They can live up to around ten years or a little longer - this is the norm for this toad.

How big are they?

The toad is usually about 4.5 inches in length - so they are quite big and fat. The males and females have light-colored spotted tummies and the male has a darker colored throat than the female.  they are multiple shades of brown and green and gray, but not brightly colored like the beautiful rare Hudon Bay toad.

Can the American toad hear?

The toad has a tympanum which is its hearing mechanism, located behind its eye, on the outside of the toad's body. The tympanum transmits sound waves to the inner part of the toad's ear.  But Wikipedia can explain all of this in better detail here.

What are their jumpking skills?

Ok, well he's no Mike Powell, but hey, for a toad, these toads are pretty good jumpers, so if you are planning on keeping one as a pet, make sure to have a good, tight-fitting lid on the tank!

Are they nocturnal?

Yes the toad is nocturnal


The american toads mate by taking up amplexus.  The female releases her eggs and many many of them - literally thousands, into shallow water.  They are laid in double strings that are covered in a jelly-like substance.  The eggs are in the water attached to all of the underwater plants and vegetation that can be found there.  It takes about two weeks for the eggs to hatch into tadpoles.  The tadpoles grow and start to lose their tails and gain legs instead, over about two months, and eat less of a vegetarian diet and become more carnivorous.  They will eventually leave the water as tiny little toads and become sexually mature by the following spring.

He sounds pretty impressive this toad, but can he sing?

The american toad does make a nice trill sound and often chirps at night. It uses this attractive trill to impress the female toads to hopefully come and mate with  him, and can make this trill last for up to 20 seconds.

Can I keep an American toad as a pet?

Yes, why not?  You can keep an American toad as a pet.  They like to dig and bury themselves during the day, being nocturnal, and they will pop up to wander around at night.  So the substrate you choose would need to be deep enough to be able to cover the toad completely during the day.  It is best to avoid fertilized soil and moss which could prove to be toxic to the toad.  The toad's tank should be around 10 gallons.  The substrate should be soft and natural such as coconut fiber or peat moss.  

Synthetic substrates are not as good as natural ones and organic soil could be a good choice for your toad.

They are also happy in tanks with temperatures around the 60-70 degree Fahrenheit temperature.  It is not necessary to have UV lighting.  Using dechlorinated water is essential in your tank.  Keep the substrate moist by mist spraying.  Keep a bowl of water in the tank for the toad to hop in and soak in, but be able to enter and exit easily, and not too deep that it could drown. Having some hideaway rocks and bark from your toad's tank would make it just perfect for the toad!

Don't mess with me... says the Cane Toad menacingly

And are you Poisonous Mr Toad?

Yes, they do have parotid glands that secrete poison, thankfully though, not too toxic to pet dogs and cats, but can leave a nasty taste in their mouths.  The cat or dog would have to actually pick up and bite the toad and get the secretions in their mouths to be affected by any toxins for the  toad, but saying that, huge toads like cane toads have been known to poison animals and people that have eaten them.  The toads have parotid glands all over their skin that are mucous and granular.  Mucous glands secrete out this clear fluid that helps the toad's skin to stay moist and damp while it is on the land.  The granular glands contain a poison called bufotoxin which it uses to fend off predators.  This toxin though is really helpful to the toad because if it has a wound, this secretion will help that would to heal.  The American toad has two parotid glands behinds its eyes.  When the toad is under threat from a predator, it lowers its head and takes on this kind of fighting stance towards its attacker.  The attacker notices these parotid glands and if it has any sense, stays away, but if it is foolhardy and attacks the toad anyway, the secretions from the glands can cause pretty nasty damage to the eyes of the attacking creature causing it a good deal of pain.

A couple of very cool facts for you


  • The american toad while young and growing will shed its skin every couple of weeks!  It actually swallows its own skin after it has been shed!
  • A garter snake is immune to the poison from these toads and so to protect itself in the unlucky event of coming to be in front of this predator, the toad will inflate its body with air to make itself as huge and difficult as possible for the snake to swallow!

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