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Great Plains Toad

Great Plains Toad

What it looks like

The Great Plains Toad is a large toad. Adults can have a body that is 11 cm long. The colour on the back is light brown with large, darker coloured patches. There are many small bumps, called warts, in each of the patches. The belly is cream coloured or light gray.

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The Great Plains Toad looks like the Canadian and American Toads, but has much larger patches on its back. It also has a "V" shaped ridge between its eyes.


This toad gets its name because it is the most common toad in the "great plains" region, also known as the grasslands or prairies, of North America.

Scientific Name

The Great Plains Toad's scientific name is Anaxyrus cognatus. Learn what that means on this page: Scientific Names.

Where it lives

The Great Plains Toad lives in grasslands. It lives in the prairies of central and western North America. It is found only in a small area in the southwestern corner of Manitoba.

Where Great Plains Toads live in North America.


In warmer weather toads are most active at night. Great Plains Toads sometimes spend the day buried in soft soil. In cooler weather they are active during the day as the sun warms the ground. In late autumn they dig deep into soft ground to spend winter. They dig with their back feet and must go down deep enough so the ground will not freeze.

Toad buried
Great Plains Toads like to bury themselves to hide from predators!

Food Web

Great Plains Toads eat small animals that live on the ground, mainly insects like ants or beetles. They will eat other invertebrates, like worms or centipedes.

Snakes are the main enemies of this toad. Its tadpoles are eaten by water bugs and shore birds.

Life Cycle

The Great Plains Toad breeds from May to July, usually after heavy rains. Females will lay their eggs in small ponds or large rainwater puddles.

Hear the Great Plains Toad mating call:

The eggs take about 3 days to hatch. The tadpoles need about 40 days to grow before changing into toadlets. The toadlets can appear from early July to late August. The toadlets are small, only about 1 cm long.


The Great Plains Toad was only discovered in Manitoba in the 1980's. It is a rare species in Manitoba because it is only found in the very southwestern tip of the province, but in that small corner they can be quite common.

Special Things

The Great Plains Toad is an amphibian that lives in very dry areas. They have hard bumps on their back feet, like little shovels, to help them dig into the ground.

How to Find Great PlainsToads

Listen for males calling in late spring or early summer after heavy rains. The best time to hear them is evening, but they may call throughout the day. Like other toads they are most active at night and can be observed by flashlight in open areas.

Use by People

Great Plains Toads probably aren't used by people. Some people like to have toads in their yards or gardens to eat insects. They are a protected species in Manitoba and you cannot harm them or damage their habitat.

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