Gastrophryne olivacea
(Hallowell, 1856)

găs-trō-frī'-nē — ŏl-ī-vā-sē-ŭh

Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult from Waubaunsee County. Image © Jim Scharosch.
A tadpole of Gastrophryne olivacea. Image © Altig et al. (2006).

Length in Kansas up to 1.6 inches. A flat-bodied squat frog, with a sharply pointed snout and fold of skin across the back of its head and behind its eyes. They are often uniformly gray, tan, or olive on top, with occasional small black spots on the back or legs. The bellies are lighter colored and typically unspotted. The toes are not webbed.
Adults normally 22-38 mm (7/8-1½ inches) in SVL; largest Kansas specimen: female (FHSM 9099) from Lincoln County with a total length of 43 mm (1 11/16 inches) collected by Curtis J. Schmidt and Richard Hayes on 13 July 2004; exceeds maximum length throughout range, as reported in Conant and Collins (1998) .

Known primarily from the eastern three-fourths of the state, apparently avoiding much of the Western Plains. The record for Hamilton County (UIMNH 62332, from 1955) is in need of corroboration, although it is somewhat corroborated by specimens just to the west into Colorado. Specimens from the vicinity of the Cimarron River in southeastern Colorado (Hammerson, 1999) indicate that this species may be more widespread in southwest Kansas than currently known.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 977 Total Records 
  • 873 Museum Vouchers 
  • 104 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (3); Anderson (32); Atchison (1); Barber (9); Barton (3); Bourbon (6); Butler (4); Chase (34); Chautauqua (8); Cherokee (6); Clark (8); Clay (7); Cloud (2); Comanche (11); Cowley (15); Crawford (1); Dickinson (2); Doniphan (5); Douglas (191); Edwards (1); Elk (13); Ellis (54); Ellsworth (12); Finney (8); Ford (1); Franklin (11); Geary (8); Greenwood (21); Hamilton (1); Harper (8); Hodgeman (1); Jackson (3); Jefferson (21); Jewell (9); Johnson (5); Kiowa (1); Labette (6); Lane (1); Leavenworth (13); Lincoln (3); Linn (1); Lyon (1); Marion (3); Marshall (27); McPherson (5); Meade (5); Miami (2); Mitchell (1); Montgomery (9); Morris (2); Neosho (6); Ness (1); Osage (1); Osborne (9); Ottawa (1); Pawnee (2); Pottawatomie (28); Pratt (3); Reno (4); Republic (3); Rice (1); Riley (67); Rooks (4); Rush (17); Russell (56); Saline (13); Sedgwick (1); Shawnee (6); Smith (3); Sumner (13); Trego (7); Unknown (5); Wabaunsee (90); Washington (10); Wilson (6); Woodson (11); Wyandotte (4);

Natural History:
Terrestrial, nocturnal, and secretive, but get together in flooded areas following late spring and summer rains to mate. Their call sounds like the metallic bleat of a sheep and lasts 1-5 seconds.
Where they co-occur in south-central Kansas (Montgomery/Wilson counties west to Clark County), with Texas Brown Tarantulas (Aphonopelma hentzi), these two seemingly unlikely associates are often found together under large rocks.

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: 88; Range: 07 Apr to 31 Jul; Interquartile range: 01 Jun to 28 Jun;

First reported from Kansas in the original description by American herpetologist and physician Edward Hallowell in 1856. The type locality was taken from the title as "Kansas and Nebraska". The specimen the description was based on was collected by William A. Hammond, a military physician stationed at Fort Riley (Geary/Riley County). The earliest extant specimen currently known, is KU 9904 from 1915.
The Western Narrow-mouthed Toad is most easily observed while it is chorusing during late spring and into summer. Over most of its range in Kansas, its bleating call is easily distinguished from other frogs.
Compared to most other species of frogs in the state, specimens can often readily be found hiding under rocks on range land slopes during the Spring and to a lesser extent in the Fall.

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
1927 Linsdale, Jean M. Amphibians and reptiles of Doniphan County, Kansas. Copeia 1927(164):75-81
1933 Smith, Hobart M. On the proper name for the brevicipetid frog Gastrophryne texensis (Girard) . Copeia 1933(4):217
1933 Smith, Hobart M. The Amphibians of Kansas Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 383pp.
1933 Stejneger, Leonhard and Thomas Barbour. A Checklist of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 3rd Edition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge,Massachusetts. pp.
1934 Brennan, Lawrence A. A check list of the amphibians and reptiles of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():189-191
1935 Brennan, Lawrence A. Notes on the Distribution of Amphibia and Reptilia of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 114pp.
1937 Brennan, Lawrence A. A study of the habitat of reptiles and amphibians of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 40():341-347
1946 Hecht, Max K. and Bessie L. Matalas. A review of middle North American toads of the genus Microhyla. American Museum Novitates (1315):1-21
1950 Smith, Hobart M. and Edward H. Taylor Type localities of Mexican reptiles and amphibians University of Kansas Science Bulletin 23 Pt II(8):313-380
1950 Tanner, Wilmer W. Notes on the habits of Microhyla carolinensis olivacea (Hallowell). Herpetologica 6(2):47-48
1951 Freiburg, Richard E. An ecological study of the narrow-mouthed toad (Microhyla) in northeastern Kansas . Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 54(3):374-386
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
1956 Fitch, Henry S. A field study of the Kansas ant-eating frog, Gastrophryne olivacea. University of Kansas Publications Museum of Natural History 8(4):275-306
1956 Fitch, Henry S. Early sexual maturity and longevity under natural conditions in the Great Plains narrow-mouthed frog. Herpetologica 12():281-282
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1962 Gish, Charles D. The Herpetofauna of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 34pp.
1972 Nelson, Craig E. Gastrophryne olivacea. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (122):1-4
1972 Nelson, Craig E. Systematic studies of the North American microhylid genus Gastrophryne. Journal of Herpetology 6(2):111-137
1973 Nelson, Craig E. Gastrophryne. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (134):1-2
1973 Nelson, Craig E. Mating calls of the Microhylinae: Descriptions and phylogenetic and ecological considerations. Herpetologica 29(2):163-176
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 Clarke, Robert F. Herptiles and fishes of the western Arkansas River in Kansas. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 55pp.
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
1995 Moriarty, Emily C. and Joseph T. Collins. First known occurrence of amphibian species in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (100):28-30
1996 Miller, Larry L. Many amphibian and reptile species identified during KHS 1996 fall field trip to Wabaunsee County. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (106):2-3
2000 Taggart, Travis W. KHS spring field trip sets record for attendance. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (120):5-5
2000 Van Doren, Mark D. and Curtis J. Schmidt. A herpetological survey of the Fort Larned National Historic Site, Pawnee County, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (120):8-11
2001 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 2000. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):6-8
2001 Taggart, Travis W. The KHS 2001 spring field trip: A rainy rendezvous. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):12-14
2002 Miller, Larry L. Sumner County herp count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2002 Riedle, J. Daren and A. Hynek. Amphibian and reptile inventory of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, Labette County, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):18-20
2002 Schmidt, Curtis J. and Travis W. Taggart. Geographic distribution: Gastrophryne olivacea. Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):10
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2003 fall field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (8):14-15
2004 Delisle, Jennifer M. and William H. Busby Biological inventory for vertebrates at Fort Larned National Historic Site of the southern plains network. Natural Heritage Inventory, Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 61pp.
2004 Schmidt, Curtis J. and Richard S. Hayes Gastrophryne olivacea, (Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad), new state maximum size record Journal of Kansas Herpetology (11):15
2004 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2004 fall feld trip . Journal of Kansas Herpetology (12):15-16
2005 Taggart, Travis W., Curtis J. Schmidt, and Richard S. Hayes. Geographic distribution: Gastrophryne olivacea. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (13):10
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 http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/tadpole/. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA. ():
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.
2008 Gomez, Nicholas J. Geographic distribution. Gastrophryne olivacea (Great Plains Narrow-mouth Toad). Journal of Kansas Herpetology (26):6
2008 Low, Brandon. Geographic distribution. Gastrophryne olivacea (Great Plains Narrow-mouth Toad). Journal of Kansas Herpetology (26):6
2008 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2008 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (25):2-3
2010 Miller, Larry L. 2010 Investigation of the Checkered Garter Snake in Kansas with notes on other Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles encountered. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 31pp.
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2012 Streicher, Jeffrey W., Christian L. Cox , Jonathan A. Campbell , Eric N. Smith , Rafael O. de Sa. Rapid range expansion in the Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea) and a revised taxonomy for North American microhylids. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 2012(64):645-653
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:
10/9/2018 8:48:26 AM

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