Photo by Jeff Hall
Scientific Name: Gastrophryne carolinensis
Classification: Nongame species
Abundance: Found in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont (blue)
The call of the Eastern narrowmouth toad is a high-pitched "weeeeee," similar to the bleat of a lamb or calf.
The eastern narrowmouth toad is a small, plump toad with a small, triangular-shaped head and a tiny mouth. The limbs are short and the toes lack webbing. The narrowmouth toad has a fold of skin across the head just behnd the eyes, and it lacks a visible tympanum (external eardrum). It is usally dark colored, ranging from gray to reddish brown, often with a broad, irregular light band running down each side. They are found in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont, and are nocturnal, spending the day buried or hidden under leaves, logs and debris in moist places. The skin secretions of narrowmouth toads can be irritating to human eyes and mucous membranes. These secretions protect the toads when feeding on ants, which are their main food.
Narrowmouth toads breed between April and October, usually during or after heavy rains on warm nights. Black-and-white eggs are laid on the surface of the water, and tadpoles change into little frogs three to 10 weeks after eggs are laid.
Eastern narrowmouth toads are 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.
Wildlife Diversity Program Quarterly Reports