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This site was created by students in the herpetology class at Towson University.  Site last updated: 05/21/07.

Acknowledgements: Herb Harris - Range Maps;  Mark Tegges - Photography; Dan Lapascha & Gigi Forester - TU Herpetology Logo

American Toad

(Anaxyrus americanus)



The American toad typically has brown to reddish skin with dark spots.  They also have large paratoid glands (located on the back of the head), which are characteristic of toad species.  In Maryland, the Fowler’s toad is the only species that would be easily confused with the American toad.  One of the key characteristics of the American toad is that it has 1-2 warts per large spot on its back as compared with the Fowler’s Toad, which typically has 3-5 warts per spot.   Both American toads and Fowler’s toads commonly have a light mid-dorsal stripe.   The belly of the American toad is mottled.  In American toads, the paratoid gland does not touch the cranial crest (located directly behind the eyes) as it does in Fowler’s Toads.  As mature adults, the females are usually larger than the males.  American toads are typically 2-3.5 inches (5.1-9 cm) in length.


American Toads can be found in a variety of habitats, ranging from suburban yards to forests and meadows, providing there is adequate moisture and a supply of food (insects and other various invertebrates). 


During the breeding season, which could occur any time from March to the end of April, male American Toads can be heard calling around breeding sites.  They are explosive breeders, meaning their period of breeding usually does not last longer than two weeks. Breeding sites are commonly shallow bodies of water (temporary ponds, lakes, shallow sections of streams or creeks, or ditches).  Their long strings of egg will hatch approximately one week after laying.  The small, dark, slightly speckled tadpoles metamorphose approximately 3 weeks after hatching.

Distribution in Maryland

Range map adapted from Harris, 1975.