Fowler's Toad

Photo: Jodie Owen

(Enlarge Photo)

Scientific Name: Bufo (Anaxyrus) fowleri 

Classification: Nongame species

Range: Abundant (green)



Fowler's toad (Photo by Ken Taylor)


The Fowler's toad call is a loud, nasal "waaaaaaah," lasting from 1 to 4 seconds. Males also utter a chirping "release call" if handled or mistakenly grabbed by another male.

The Fowler's toad is highly variable in color and pattern. It may be brown, tan, gray, olive, greenish or reddish. It is often boldly spotted, and is more likely to have a greenish tint than any of the other three toad species found in North Carolina - the American toad, the southern toad and the oak toad. Fowler's toads usually haave a pale stripe running down the middle of the back. They look a lot like American toads but have less pronounced cranial crests that are flush with the paratoid glands. They also have smaller warts on the lower leg section, three or four large warts within each dark spot on the back, and often a single dark spot on an otherwise whitish chest. Males are smaller than females and have dark throats.

Fowler's toads are the most common toads in many parts of the Piedmont. They also are found over much of the Coastal Plain and Mountains. They are primarily nocturnal but may also be active during the day. Like the American toad, Fowler's toads have a ravenous appetite for insects and will eat many kinds of insects and other small terrestrial invertebrates, except earthworms.

They breed mostly from April to July. Females lay several thousands of eggs in long strings. Eggs hatch in a few days, and the small, blackish tadpoles transform in about three to eight weeks. Fowler's toads are fish-tolerant and breed in permanent water as well as in temporary wetlands. Fowler's toads may hybridize with American or southern toads in areas where their ranges overlap.

As with other toads, Fowler's toads have skin secretions that are toxic or distasteful to many predators.

The Fowler's 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.