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American Toad

American Toad

What it looks like

The American Toad is a large toad. Its body can be as long as 11 cm. On top they are usually brown, but can be gray or even dark red. There are lots of darker patches on the back. They also have lots of little bumps called warts. (These aren't like the warts that people get. You don't get warts from picking up toads!) Underneath they are light gray with small dots of gray or brown.

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An American Toad looks a lot like a Canadian Toad or a Great Plains Toad. The Canadian Toad has a large flat bump on the top of its head between its eyes. It has smaller warts and larger dark spots on its back. The American Toad has no bump between its eyes and has larger warts in smaller dark spots on its back. The Great Plains Toad has much larger dark patches on its back than the other two toads.


This is the most common toad in eastern North America, so it is called the American Toad.

Scientific Name

The American Toad's scientific name is Anaxyrus americana. Learn what that means on this page: Scientific Names.

Where it lives

American Toads live in forests near lakes or wetlands. They are found in eastern North America. In Manitoba they can be found east of Lake Winnipeg as far north as the north end of the lake.

Where American Toads live in North America.


In warmer weather American Toads are most active at night and rest during the day on the forest floor. In cooler weather they are active during the day as the sun warms the ground. In late autumn they dig deep into soft ground and spend the winter there below where the frost can reach.

Food Web

American Toads eat insects and other small invertebrates. Their main food is insects that crawl on the ground like beetles and ants.

Adult toads taste bad and can make some animals sick if they eat one. So most birds and mammals won't eat them. Snakes are their main enemies. Large water bugs and wading birds will eat the tadpoles.

Life Cycle

American Toads mate and lay their eggs in May. They will breed in ponds filled by melting snow or in small year-round water bodies.

Hear the American Toad mating call:
With some Boreal Chorus Frogs, too.

Toad eggs are laid in a long string instead of in a ball like frog eggs. A large female toad can lay more than 500 eggs. The eggs hatch in 3 to 5 days. The tadpoles change into toadlets by July after 40 to 50 days as tadpoles. The new toadlets are only about 1 cm long.

Toad Calling
A calling male rippling the water.


American Toads are very common in southeastern Manitoba. There can be more than 50 toads in one hectare of forest.

Special Things

American Toads have bad tasting liquid in their skin. This squeezes out if they are attacked. It can make some animals sick so this helps to protect the toads. Toads have hard bumps on their back feet, like little shovels, to help them dig into the ground.

How to Find American Toads

Listen for males calling in mid to late May, later further north. The best time to hear them is evening, but they may call throughout the day. Toads are most active at night. Look for them with a flashlight along roads or beaches.

Use by People

Toads aren't used much by people. Some people think you can get warts from touching toads, but that is not true. Many people like to have toads in their yards or gardens to eat insects.

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