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What Is the Southern Toad?

Southern toads can be fed crickets.
Article Details
  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 11 August 2014
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The southern toad, or Bufo terrestris, is a toad species native to southeastern North America. These toads are generally nocturnal, and like to live in areas with loose, sandy soil, since they often spend most of the daylight hours in a burrow underground. The southern toad will generally remain near a source of water, and they usually feed on small insects and spiders. They have been known to populate residential areas without compunction, probably because house lights can attract the types of insects on which this species likes to feed. The southern toad is generally brownish in hue, although specimens with reddish or black coloration have been found, and many toads may have dark splotches on their backs.

The typical toad of this species reaches an adult length of about 3 inches (7.6 centimeters). Though similar in color and size to other toad species of its native region, the southern toad can usually be identified by its typically pronounced parotid glands. These glands can normally be found on the top of the toad's head, between and behind its eyes. In this species, the glands are believed to secrete a pale, viscous substance that can be toxic to predators. These secretions can cause skin irritations in humans, especially in the eyes and mouth, though it isn't considered potent enough to endanger human life.

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Males of this species typically attract a mate with their croak, although these toads have been known to vocalize for reasons that have nothing to do with mating. The southern toad may mate anytime between March and October. Males generally have a loud, somewhat high-pitched croak that lasts for two to eight seconds, with silences of no more than one minute between calls. The female typically deposits her fertilized eggs in puddles of rainwater or areas that are flooded. It usually takes about three days for the eggs to hatch, and about two months for the tadpoles to complete their metamorphosis into toads.

These toads can be found throughout much of the southeastern United States, as far west as the Mississippi River. Their range to the north is said to extend as far as the southeastern-most tip of the state of Virginia. They mostly eat spiders and insects, especially small flying insects of the type attracted to light sources. Ants, earwigs, beetles, crickets, and snails can also form part of the southern toad's culinary repertoire.

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