American toad

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More names for this animal

Anishinaabemowin: Obiigomakakii (toad)

Dakota: Natápeḣa (toad)

The Dakota and Anishinaabe were among the earliest people to name Minnesota’s plants and animals, as well as to understand them in relation to Minnesota’s climate and seasons. Those original names are still in use, and several are included on the Season Watch website.

Latin (or scientific name): Anaxyrus americanus (formerly Bufo americanus)

The scientific community has a convention of assigning agreed-upon Latin names to every kind of organism. Using scientific names helps people communicate confidently about the same organism and organize lifeforms based on how closely related they are.

American toad on leaf litter. Its skin is bumpy and mottled in shades of dark and light browns.
American toad.
April 21, 2022, Ramsey County, Minnesota
Photo © mchergosky, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)
iNaturalist observation

About the American toad

  • The American toad is reddish or brown on top, pale underneath, has warts on its back and is approximately two to four inches long.
  • During the breeding season (in spring), they can be found in a variety of places such as ditches, river backwaters, streams, swamps, and temporary wetlands.
  • As spring transitions to summer, toads can be found farther from water, in places such as woodlands, grasslands, yards and even gardens.
  • In winter, the American toad burrows and lives below the frost line.
  • Fun fact: Most animals avoid eating American toads due to their bitter taste. However, raccoons will eat the underside to avoid the distasteful back and head.

Visual guide to phenology

Watch for American toads' presence (or absence), abundance, and behaviors at different times of year. Also, pay attention to when young-of-year appear and develop.

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Note to observers

This page explains general clues to watch and listen for when observing American toad phenology. However, this page does not explain how to identify this animal or collect data in a standardized way.

Frost and snow on the landscape. Scene is mostly gray and pale shades of tan.
Front foot of an American toad. Hardened tips of the fingers allow the toad to dig in soft sands and soils.
American toad on the soil with soil on the body.
American toad on the ground, partly covered with soil
American toad with inflated vocal sac to produce sound.
American toads mating in the water.
Strings of toad eggs in the water. Eggs have a dark center and a clear gelatenous coating.
American toad eggs in the water. Clear gelatenous material encloses a string of black spherical shapes.
American toad tadpoles in the water. Small black round bodies with tails.
American toad tadpole, developing in to a toad
American toad "metamorph" has a tail like a tadpole and a head, body, and legs like a toad.
American toad "metamorph" has a head, body, and legs like a toad and the tadpole tail is almost gone.
American toadlet is tiny on the grass next to a golf ball that is many times its size.
American toad is on the ground, partially burried in the soil
American toad on snowy ground. This toad will need to dig into the soil in order to survive.

Audio resources

American toads "trilling"

Audio file

May 15, 2020, Ramsey County, Minnesota

Recording © Adam Herman, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC), iNaturalist observation

A single individual calling in the foreground

Audio file
Spring 2019, Etowah County, Alabama
CC BY 4.0

Graphs and historical data

Note: The Orientation Center provides a map, as well as information on reading graphs; interpreting summary statistics, who collected the data and how; and how to download datasets for independent exploration.

Carlton County


  • Earliest: April 4 (occurred in 2005)
  • Average: May 8
  • Latest: May 29 (occurred in 1997 and 2002)
Scatterplot showing American toad phenology in Carlton County, Minnesota

Download this dataset (.csv file)

Hubbard County

First heard

  • Earliest: April 22 (occurred in 2006)
  • Average: May 14
  • Latest: May 28 (occurred in 2013)
Scatterplot showing American toad phenology in Hubbard County, Minnesota

Download this dataset (.csv file)

Itasca County

First heard

  • Earliest: April 30 (occurred in 2001)
  • Average: May 15
  • Latest: May 29 (occurred in 2013)
Scatterplot showing American toad phenology in Itasca County, Minnesota

Download this dataset (.csv file)