North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Southern Toad

Scientific Name: Bufo (Anaxyrus) terrestris
Classification: Nongame species
Abundance: Common throughout Coastal Plain (blue)

Photo by FWC Fish & Wildlife Res. Ins.










The southern toad is one of four toad species in the Bufonidae family, native to North Carolina. It closely resembles the American toad and the Fowler's toad, but it is most easily distinguished by the large knobs on its pronounced cranial crests. Its color may be brown, tan, reddish, gray or blackish with a variable number of warts in each large dark spot on the back. It may have a light stripe down the middle of its back. Males are smaller than females and have dark throats. Southern toads are found throughout the Coastal Plain. In many portions of the lower Coastal Plain, they are the only large toads. They lay their eggs in long strings. Eggs hatch in about a week or less. The small, blackish tadpoles transform in about 4 to 8 weeks. Southernn toads prefer to breed in shallow ponds and other temporary wetlands, but they will also use permanent bodies of water. They may hybridize with Fowler's or American toads in areas where their ranges overlap.

The southern toad is classified as a nongame species with no open season. It is unlawful for any person to take, or have in possession, any nongame mammal or bird unless that person has a collection license or is collecting fewer than 5 reptiles or fewer than 25 amphibians that are not endangered, threatened, or special concerned species.

There are no reported problems with this species. 

Frogs and toads can be monitored fairly easily in a variety of ways. One way is through frog call monitoring. The North Carolina Calling Amphibian Survey Program attempts to do just that by corralling data collected by volunteers across the state that monitors specific frog call routes. Each species of frog and toad has a unique call that is distinguishable from others.  Some are more difficult for humans to separate than others, but the frogs know who’s who!  Learn your frog calls, and you too can distinguish who’s calling in the ponds.  Another way to monitor frogs and toads is by looking for egg masses deposited in wetlands and/or by looking for tadpoles in those same wetlands. Different frogs breed at different times of the year, so when to look for eggs is dependent on the species of interest. Eggs typically hatch within a couple weeks of being deposited, so there is a fairly short window for detection. Frog eggs can sometimes be identified to family, but are somewhat tricky to identify to species level.  Tadpole identification can be similarly tricky, so learning and listening to frog calls is definitely the easiest method for determining what frogs and toads are using a wetland. Tadpoles are a little easier to monitor, as most species have tadpoles present in wetlands for longer periods of time. This is, again, variable by species.  Most species have tadpole stages that last at least several months, but the range in timing for different species is everything from a couple of weeks to several years.  The smaller frog and toad species tend to have shorter tadpole cycles, while the larger frogs and toads tend to have longer times to metamorphosis.