Anaxyrus cognatus
(Say 1822: 190)

ăn-ăx-ī'-rŭs — käg-nā'-tŭs

An adult female Great Plains Toad from Hamilton County, Kansas. © Travis W. Taggart.
A chorusing adult male from Seward County. Image © Travis W. Taggart.
An adult specimen from Clark County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
A tadpole of Bufo cognatus. Image © Altig et al. (2006).

The Great Plains Toad has large paired dark (black, brown, or green) blotches on its back. Each blotch is boldly bordered by lighter pigment and contains many warts. Each blotch contains several small warts. The colors of this toad are generally yellowish, brown, greenish, or gray on top. Below is unspotted, cream to white, with a yellow or orange-yellow seat patch. Some specimens have been found with a narrow, light mid-dorsal stripe. The head of the Great Plains toad is relatively small with a well-developed cranial crest. Their snout is blunt and rounded.
Adults normally 50- 85 mm (2 - 3 3/8 inches) in SVL; largest Kansas specimen: female (KU 186099) from Sumner County with SVL of 102 mm (4 inches) collected by Jeff Ehlers on 23 June 1980; maximum length throughout range: 4½ inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Found throughout western Kansas to the east edge of the Flint Hills. But also follows the riparian corridor along the Kansas River and then along the Missouri River to the North. Specimens from southern Douglas and northwest Miami counties are each over 50 years old and in need of verification.

Locality Dot Map:
The brown shaded areas () show the boundaries of properties in public or institutional ownership that contain ecological resources that merit some level of protection (KBS file).
(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record). Export Google Earth (.kml)
Open icons indicate questionable records; Click on a marker to view details.
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 1,083 Total Records 
  • 836 Museum Vouchers 
  • 247 Other Observations 
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences): Some occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map.
Atchison (1); Barber (17); Barton (23); Brown (1); Butler (3); Chase (1); Chautauqua (1); Cheyenne (4); Clark (6); Clay (1); Cloud (1); Comanche (19); Cowley (68); Dickinson (2); Doniphan (1); Douglas (71); Edwards (3); Elk (2); Ellis (234); Ellsworth (2); Finney (27); Ford (8); Geary (5); Gove (4); Graham (43); Grant (5); Gray (8); Greeley (5); Hamilton (2); Harper (13); Harvey (4); Haskell (1); Hodgeman (3); Jefferson (9); Jewell (1); Johnson (2); Kearney (8); Kingman (15); Kiowa (13); Lane (3); Leavenworth (3); Logan (3); Marion (4); Marshall (4); McPherson (10); Meade (55); Miami (1); Mitchell (1); Morton (7); Ness (53); Norton (8); Ottawa (1); Pawnee (21); Phillips (8); Pottawatomie (3); Pratt (4); Rawlins (2); Reno (27); Republic (1); Rice (12); Riley (4); Rooks (2); Rush (15); Russell (1); Saline (3); Scott (23); Sedgwick (18); Seward (25); Shawnee (5); Sheridan (1); Sherman (2); Stafford (42); Stanton (1); Stevens (4); Sumner (20); Thomas (9); Trego (22); Unknown (4); Wabaunsee (1); Wallace (6); Washington (3); Wichita (2); Wyandotte (2);

Natural History:
Following spring rains from April to June, male Great Plains Toads call from semi-permanent ponds to attract mates. The males use their frontward-projecting, sausage-shaped vocal sac to produce their call, which is a loud, metallic trill that lasts 20-50 seconds. A female may lay up to 20,000 eggs, which hatch in two to three days. Eggs are laid in strings. The young toads transform and leave the water four to six weeks later.
Hartman (1906) reported a diet of snout-beetles and dung-beetles in Kansas specimens, though they likely will consume any live small animal that fits in their mouth.

Occurrence Activity:

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: 212; Range: 27 Mar to 31 Aug; Interquartile range: 11 May to 24 Jun;

First reported in Kansas by Cragin (1880). The earliest extant specimen from Kansas is MCZ 20141 (1881). Smith (1946) described the tadpoles of this species from a series taken at Meade County State Park.
Gloyd (1929) reported a large female from Riley County that was collected at approximately 10 pm on a small road near the Blue River NE of Manhattan on 12 July 1928. 

1822 Say, Thomas. In James, Edwin. Pages 1783 in Account of an expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, performed in the years 1819, '20, by order of the Hon. J. C. Calhoun, Secretary of War, under the command of Major Stephen H. Long. Vol. 2. H. C. Carey & I. Lea., Philadelphia. pp.
1880 Cragin, Francis W. A preliminary catalogue of Kansas reptiles and batrachians Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 7():114-123
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
1906 Dickerson, Mary C. The Frog Book; North American Toads and Frogs, with Study of the Habits and Life Histories of Those of the Northeastern States. Doubleday, Page & Company, New York, New York. 253pp.
1906 Hartman, Frank A. Food habits of Kansas lizards and batrachians. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 20():225-229
1925 Storer, Tracy I. A synopsis of the amphibia of California. University of California Publications in Zoology (27):1-342
1929 Gloyd, Howard K. Two additions to the herpetological fauna of Riley County, Kansas. Science 66(1776):44
1929 Taylor, Edward H. List of reptiles and batrachians of Morton County, Kansas, reporting species new to the state fauna. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 19(6):63-65
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
1944 Marr, John C. Notes on amphibians and reptiles from the central United States. American Midland Naturalist 32(2):478-490
1946 Smith, Hobart M. The tadpoles of Bufo cognatus Say. University of Kansas Publications Museum of Natural History 1(3):93-96
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.
1975 Rundquist, Eric M. First KHS field trip yields three county records. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (7):1-3
1977 Knight, James L. and Joseph T. Collins. The amphibians and reptiles of Cheyenne County, Kansas, Report Number 15. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 19pp.
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 Guarisco, Hank Record size Great Plains Toad collected in Sumner County. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter 38():5
1980 Kunz, T. H., J. R. Choate, and S. B. George Distributional records for three species of mammals in Kansas Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 83():74-77
1989 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1988. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (75):15-18
1990 Krupa, James J. Bufo cognatus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (457):1-8
1991 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Reptiles and Amphibians of the Cimarron National Grasslands, Morton County, Kansas. U. S. Forest Service, Elkhart, Kansas. 60pp.
1995 Moriarty, Emily C. and Joseph T. Collins. First known occurrence of amphibian species in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (100):28-30
1996 Dundee, Harold A. Some reallocations of type localities of reptiles and amphibians described from the Major Stephen H. Long Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, with comments on some of the statements made in the account written by Edwin James.  Tulane Studies in Zoology and Botany 30():75–89
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
2002 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 2001. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (1):10-11
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.
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. Addendum report to biological inventory of the sandsage prairie near Holcomb, Kansas. Sunflower Electric Cooperative, Hays, Kansas. 31pp.
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.
2007 Taggart, Travis W. A biological inventory of the Sunflower Electric Site near Holcomb, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology 23():11-16
2010 Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. 400pp.
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.
Account Last Updated:
7/30/2019 7:53:47 PM

Travis W. Taggart © 2019 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University