Anaxyrus americanus
(Holbrook 1836)

ăn-ăx-ī'-rŭs — ă-mĕr-ĭ-cā'-nŭs

An adult American Toad. Image © Suzanne L. Collins.
American Toad egg strings, Chautauqua County. Image © Travis W. Taggart.
Chorusing adult American Toad from Montgomery Co. Image © Travis W. Taggart.
An adult American Toad from Cherokee County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins.
A tadpole of Bufo americanus. Image © Altig et al. (2006).

Grows to over 4.5 inches long except in the Ozark Plateau, lower Neosho River valley, and southern cross timbers, where it seldom reaches four inches in length. The most common toad throughout most of eastern Kansas, but easily confused with the Woodhouse's Toad, with which it may occasionally hybridize. It can be distinguished from the Woodhouse's Toad (and Fowler's Toad) by having one (seldom more) warts per spot on the dorsal head, body, and legs and a profusely spotted belly (except in specimens from the extreme southern border [which are diminutive and reddish in color]). The spots are not paired.
Adults normally grow 50-90 mm (2-3½ inches) in SVL. largest Kansas specimen: sex undetermined (KU 211394) from Neosho County with SVL of 102 mm (4 inches) collected by Travis W. Taggart and R. Bruce Taggart on 14 September 1988; maximum length throughout range: 4 3/8 inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Found throughout much of the eastern third of the state, generally east of the Flint Hills.
A specimen from Trego County (FHSM 5857) has been examined and is characteristic of this taxon. It is not mapped as it undoubtedly represents an introduction, possibly from hatchery activities at Cedar Bluff.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 1,407 Total Records 
  • 874 Museum Vouchers 
  • 533 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (12); Anderson (12); Atchison (2); Bourbon (27); Brown (2); Butler (1); Chase (1); Chautauqua (40); Cherokee (337); Coffey (111); Cowley (8); Crawford (55); Doniphan (13); Douglas (223); Elk (9); Franklin (18); Greenwood (103); Jackson (1); Jefferson (8); Johnson (21); Labette (46); Leavenworth (27); Linn (29); Lyon (5); Marion (2); Miami (20); Montgomery (74); Nemaha (1); Neosho (34); Osage (64); Pottawatomie (1); Riley (2); Shawnee (1); Trego (1); Wabaunsee (20); Wilson (44); Woodson (8); Wyandotte (15);

Natural History:
They are active at night during humid weather and remain hidden under rocks, logs, thatch, or shallow burrows during the day. During March and April rains, American Toads breed in semipermanent ponds, ditches, and even tire ruts. The call is a long musical trill lasting 5 to 50 seconds. Eggs are laid in long strings. Outside of the breeding season, they can be found all over the eastern third of Kansas from forests to backyard gardens. 
They seek cover by day and search for prey at night. They can often be found congregating around lights in rural and residential areas to pick off insects as they land (Hartman 1906). He examined the contents of eleven toads from Wyandotte County and found they had consumed the following insects: Cincindelidae, ground-beetles, crickets, snapping-beetles, leaf-hoppers, ants, Belostoma, Lachnosterna, grasshoppers, tumblebugs, Lampyridae, and carrion beetles. One specimen contained sixty beetles, three leaf-hoppers, and three ants.

Occurrence Activity:
The blue dates denote chorusing actity. The red ates are other occurrences. The darker a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.

Audio recording by Keith Coleman.

Chorusing Phenology: The black dots illustrate the actual Julian date (day of the year; 1 January = 1 to 31 December = 365) observations were made. The thin red line depicts the range of dates between the beginning of the first, and end of the fourth quartile (excluding outliers; Tukey method). The thick light blue bar represents the second and third quartile (interquartile range; the middle 50% of all observations). Only one observation per Julian date is included in the graphs; so a date with multiple observations carries the same weight as a date with only one observation. The vertical bars correspond to the 12 months of the year; January through December.
# Unique Obervations: 479; Range: 13 Mar to 07 Jul; Interquartile range: 10 Apr to 27 May;

First reported in Kansas by Hallowell (1856). The earliest existing specimen is from 1904 (KU6343).
Smith (1950) first pointed out the occurrence of the odd looking American Toads in Cherokee County. While not describing them as new, he noted that they possibly represented a unique form. With Smith's comments as an impetus, Bragg (1954) described the populations from eastern Oklahoma and SE Kansas as a distinct subspecies but noted that he could find no evidence of hybridization between this diminutive race and that of the nominate Bufo americanus. Collins (1982) mentioned the possible existence of this form in SE Kansas but declined to recognize it in the absence of more recent specimens. Collins did comment that should the form be found in Kansas, that it probably represented a distinct species. Masta et al. (2002) demonstrated that charlesmithi was a distinct clade and may merit specific recognition.
Where it occurs, this diminutive form is by no means rare. However, future studies are necessary to determine the limits of its distribution in Kansas.

1857 Hallowell, Edward. Note on the collection of reptiles from the neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas, recently presented to the Academy of Natural Sciences by Dr. A. Heerman. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 8():306-310
1857 Hallowell, Edward. Notice of a collection of reptiles from Kansas and Nebraska presented to the Academy of Natural Sciences, by Doctor Hammond, U. S. A. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 8():238-253
1882 Yarrow, Henry C. Check list of North American Reptilia and Batrachia with catalogue of specimens in U. S. National Museum. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (24):1-249
1889 Cope, Edward D The batrachia of North America. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (34):1-525
1906 Hartman, Frank A. Food habits of Kansas lizards and batrachians. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 20():225-229
1929 Burt, Charles E. and May Danheim Burt. A collection of amphibians and reptiles from the Mississippi valley, with field observations. American Museum Novitates (381):1-14
1932 Gloyd, Howard K. The herpetological fauna of the Pigeon Lake Region, Miami County, Kansas. Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 15():389-408
1932 Mansfield, Robert R. A Comparative study of the Helminthes of the Anura from five given localities. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 35pp.
1933 Smith, Hobart M. The Amphibians of Kansas Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 383pp.
1934 Smith, Hobart M. The Amphibians of Kansas. American Midland Naturalist 15(4):377-527
1953 Sanders, Ottys. A new species of toad, with a discussion of morphology of the bufonid skull. Herpetologica 9(1):25-47
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
1954 Bragg, Arthur N. Bufo terrestris charlesmithi, a new subspecies from Oklahoma Wasmann Journal of Biology 12(2):245
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1976 Caldwell, Janalee P. and Gregory. Glass. Vertebrates of the Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Pages 62-76 in Preliminary inventory of the biota of Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Report No. 5. State Biological Survey of Kansas, Lawrence. pp.
1977 Rundquist, Eric M. and Joseph T. Collins. The amphibians of Cherokee County, Kansas. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 12pp.
1980 Glass, G. E., and N .A. Slade The effect of Sigmodon hispidus on spatial and temporal activity of Microtus ochrogaster: Evidence for competition Ecology 61():358-370
1982 Fitch, Henry S. Resources of a snake community in prairie-woodland habitat of northeastern Kansas. Pages 83-97 in Herpetological communities: A symposium of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles and the Herpetologists League, August 1977.  Wildlife Research Reports 12. 239 pp. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D. C. pp.
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1992 Taggart, Travis W. Observations on Kansas amphibians and reptiles Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (88):13-15
1994 Fitzgerald, Eve and Charles Nilon Classification of habitats for endangered and threatened species in Wyandotte County, Kansas Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 98pp.
1995 Moriarty, Emily C. and Joseph T. Collins. First known occurrence of amphibian species in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (100):28-30
1999 Taggart, Travis W. Cherokee County fall 1999 herp count. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (117):6
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2000 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):6-8
2001 Taggart, Travis W. The KHS 2001 spring field trip: A rainy rendezvous. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):12-14
2002 Gubanyi, James E.. Osage County herp count I. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2002 Masta, Susan E., Brian K. Sullivan, Trip Lamb, and Eric J. Routman Molecular systematics, hybridization, and phylogeography of the Bufo americanus complex in eastern North America. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 24():302-314
2002 Miller, Larry L. Osage County herp count II. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2002 Miller, Larry L. Shawnee County herp count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2003 fall field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (8):14-15
2005 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2005 fall field trip [to Crawford County]. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (16):19-21
2006 Altig, Ronald, Roy W. McDiarmid, Kimberly A. Nichols, and Paul C. Ustach Tadpoles of the United States and Canada: A Tutorial and Key Electronic files accessible at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA. ():
2006 Frost, D., T. Grant, J. Faivovich, R. Bain, A. Haas, C. Haddad, R. De Sá, A. Channing, M. Wilkinson, S. Donnellan, C. Raxworthy, J. Campbell, B. Blotto, P. Moler, R. C. Drewes, R. Nussbaum, J. Lynch, D. Green & W. Wheeler The amphibian tree of life Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History (297):370
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2011 Fontenot, Brian E., Robert Makowsky, Paul T. Chippindale. Nuclear-mitochondrial discordance and gene flow in a recent radiation of toads. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 59():66-80
2011 McMartin, David C. U. S. Army 2011 Fort Leavenworth Herpetofaunal Survey: 23 April - 09 May 2011. Privately printed, Leavenworth, Kansas. 33pp.
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2016 Pittman, Galen L., Henry S. Fitch, and W. Dean Kettle Vertebrate animals on the Fitch Natural History Reservation (1948-2002) Kansas Biological Survey Report Number 188, Lawrence. 48pp.
2017 Snyder, Ariel Survey Of Anuran Chytrid (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in Kansas and the Influence of Anuran Life History in Occurrence. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 53pp.
Account Last Updated:
8/1/2019 11:54:00 AM

Travis W. Taggart © 2020 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University