What Is Fowler's Toad?

Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee

Fowler's toad is one of several types of toads common to the eastern coastal plain of North America. Two species of Fowler's toad generally are found in these regions: Bufo fowleri and Anaxyrus fowleri. These toads are usually rather small, and may be grayish, brownish, or greenish in color. The back of the Fowler's toad normally bears several darkly colored blotches, each with at least three wart-like protrusions.

These toads are typically nocturnal, and usually spend their days in a sandy burrow at the edge of a pond or river. They can also sometimes be found near forested areas and in open fields. They mostly feed on insects. Fowler's toads will generally retreat into their burrows when the weather is inhospitable to them, whether it be too cold or too arid. Their natural predators include birds, small animals, and snakes, and they may protect themselves by playing dead, or by emitting a foul-tasting, potentially harmful substance from their dorsal warts.

Females of the species are not usually as darkly colored as the males. These toads can vary somewhat in color, with some specimens being light brown or yellowish, others being gray, and some being more greenly tinted. They can usually be identified by their pale abdomens, which almost always bear a single darkly colored splotch. Splotches on the toad's back are generally a darker shade of the toad's overall color. Each of these dorsal splotches typically contains at least three dorsal warts, but may contain more.

The typical adult Fowler's toad reaches a maximum length of 1.9 to 3.74 inches (5 to 9.5 centimeters) at maturity. It can take the Fowler's toad up to three years to reach sexual maturity, though many specimens mature faster than that. These toads usually mate in late spring or early summer. They usually breed at the water's edge, near lakes, swamps, and ponds.

The female Fowler's toad generally carries 7,000 to 10,000 eggs on the outside of her body. It usually takes between 48 hours and a week for the fertilized eggs of this toad species to hatch. Tadpoles typically begin their metamorphosis about a month later.

The male can usually fertilize a female's eggs by mounting her from behind. It is common for males of this species to accidentally attempt fertilization on other males. The male Fowler's toad is believed to have evolved a distress call to warn away other males who may attempt to fertilize it.

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