The fowler’s toad is variable in color, displaying shades of brown, tan, gray, olive green, and rusty red on their back and sides. Lighter, pale shades are present on their underbellies. Darkened spots and warts coat their body, divided by a pale gray stripe that runs down the middle of their back. Males are typically smaller and darker than females.
Adult fowler’s toads are insectivores (feeds mainly on insects) and attack their targets by shooting out their sticky tongue to trap an insect and drawing it back into their mouth. As a nocturnal species, these toads hunt primarily at night.
When a predator is near, these little toads are known to play dead and camouflage themselves. When spotted and attacked, they release a compound that is both toxic and distasteful to predators. The fowler toad still falls prey to snapping turtles, snakes, birds such as grackles, jays and crows, and small mammals like raccoons and skunks—all species whose stomachs can neutralize the toxins.
Mating calls sound like a loud, nasal waaaah lasting one to four seconds and are used by males to attract females. Another call—the release call—sounds like chirping and is used by a male when mistaken for a female.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
Breeding typically begins in late spring or early summer, varying depending on region. Come mating season, male fowler toads will journey to their preferred mating sites—shallow open waters like woodland ponds, farm ponds, lake edges and marshes—and begin calling out for their mates. From a successful mating, a female can produce up to 7,000-10,000 eggs that fertilize externally. Eggs hatch in 2-7 days, giving birth to tiny tadpoles. Tadpoles metamorphosize into young toads in 4-6 weeks and will mature in 2-3 years. Fowler toads live for approximately 5 years.
Did You Know?
- Female Fowler's toads lay eggs in strings with clutches of up to 20,000 eggs.
- Fowler’s toads use their body (skin) coloration as a defensive mechanism to blend into their surroundings.
- Fowler’s toads will play dead when attacked or handled.
- Fowler’s toads secrete a sticky, wet compound from the warts on their back skin that are both toxic and distasteful to many of its predators.