Have you ever been warned to stay away from toads because they could give you warts? Well, it turns out that’s just a myth! In this informative article, you will discover two types of toads that can be found in New Hampshire: the American Toad and the Fowler’s Toad. Learn about their identifying characteristics, habitats, and fascinating behaviors. Did you know that American Toad tadpoles are so toxic that they can kill a fish? Or that the mating call of the Fowler’s Toad attracts both males and females? Dive into the world of toads in New Hampshire and become an expert in identifying these amazing creatures!
American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)
The American Toad, also known as Anaxyrus americanus, is a small toad species typically measuring 2-3 ½ inches in length. They have a distinctive appearance with a brown to gray, olive, or brick red coloration. They often have patches of yellow, buff, or other light colors, along with dark spots. One of the most notable features of the American Toad is the presence of many warts all over its back and legs. These warts give the toad a rough and bumpy texture.
Habitat and Distribution
American Toads can be found in various habitats in New Hampshire, including forests, prairies, and suburban backyards. They are one of the most common and widely known species of toad in the region. The subspecies found in New Hampshire is the Eastern American Toad, which tends to be larger than other subspecies.
Diet and Behavior
American Toads are carnivorous and primarily feed on insects, worms, spiders, and slugs. They have a voracious appetite and play an important role in controlling pest populations. These toads are typically active at night and feed by using their long, sticky tongue to capture prey. During the day, they can be found hiding under rocks or in moist areas to conserve moisture.
American Toads are known for their distinctive call, which is a musical trilling noise that can last for up to 30 seconds. This call is often heard during the breeding season as males try to attract females. Toads prefer to breed in shallow water, and their tadpoles have a fascinating defense mechanism. The skin of the tadpoles secretes a toxic chemical that can kill fish. Even adult American Toads are toxic to other animals, including large dogs that come into contact with their milky-white secretions.
Reproduction and Lifecycle
The breeding season for American Toads typically occurs in the spring, often after heavy rainfall. During this time, males will gather in and around bodies of water and begin their mating calls to attract females. Once a female has chosen a mate, she will lay long strings of eggs, known as spawn, in the water. These eggs will hatch into tadpoles after a few days.
The tadpoles of American Toads undergo a remarkable transformation as they grow and develop. Over the course of several weeks, they will gradually develop legs and absorb their tail, eventually becoming fully formed toads. The young toads will then leave the water and venture onto land, where they will spend the rest of their lives.
One important characteristic of American Toads is their toxicity. Both the tadpoles and adult toads are capable of secreting a toxic chemical from their skin as a defense mechanism. This toxic secretion acts as a deterrent to predators, making the toads unpalatable. Even handling an American Toad or having contact with their secretions can cause discomfort or pain, especially for animals with sensitive skin. It is important to avoid touching or picking up these toads unless necessary.
Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)
Fowler’s Toad, scientifically known as Anaxyrus fowleri, is another species of toad found in New Hampshire. These toads are slightly smaller than American Toads, typically measuring 2-3 inches in length. They have a gray to brownish green or olive coloration, with dark splotches on their back. These splotches often have three or more warts within them. The belly of the Fowler’s Toad is usually white or yellowish, sometimes with dark spots that break into smaller flecks.
Habitat and Distribution
Fowler’s Toads can be found in a wide range of habitats in New Hampshire, including forests, river valleys, farms, and urban and suburban gardens. They are fairly abundant in the region and are known for their adaptability to various environments. These toads often seek out moist areas for shelter and breeding.
Diet and Behavior
Similar to American Toads, Fowler’s Toads are carnivorous and feed on a variety of insects. They are particularly adept at pest control and can help keep populations of harmful insects in check. These toads are nocturnal and are most active during the evening and nighttime hours. They have a secretive nature and are skilled at blending into their surroundings, making them difficult to spot.
During the breeding season, Fowler’s Toads emit a distinct mating call that lasts for about 1-4 seconds. The call is a nasal “wa-a-a-ah” sound, similar to the call of a Canada Goose. One interesting aspect of their mating behavior is that their call attracts both males and females. In some cases, a male toad may attempt to mate with another male, only realizing his mistake when he hears the other male toad’s warning chirp.
Field Guide Recommendation
For those who want to learn more about identifying toads in New Hampshire, a recommended field guide is the “Peterson Field Guides to Reptiles and Amphibians.” This comprehensive guide provides detailed information and illustrations to help identify different species of toads, as well as other reptiles and amphibians found in the area. It is a valuable resource for nature enthusiasts and researchers alike.
Leave a Comment
Have you encountered either the American Toad or Fowler’s Toad in New Hampshire? We would love to hear about your experiences and sightings. Leave a comment below and share your stories or any additional information you have about these fascinating creatures. Your insights and observations contribute to our collective knowledge of New Hampshire’s diverse wildlife.