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Great Plains toad

Scientific name: Bufo cognatus


CLASS: Amphibia
ORDER: Anura
FAMILY: Bufonidae

FEEDING TYPE: Insectivore
STATISTICS: Weight: up to 120 grams; Length: 1.5-4.5 in

DESCRIPTION:
The Great Plains toad is a medium-sized toad. The skin is gray to olive-brown in color. There are several darker-colored spots with a light-colored border surrounding each spot on its skin. The skin is covered in small warts. It has a defined cranial crest that meets to form a bony hump on the nose. There is also a sharp-edged raised area on each back foot that helps with burrowing. The male has a flap of skin that covers up the vocal sac.

RANGE:
Southern Manitoba and southeastern Alberta in Canada, Great Plains of the United States, southwestern United States, and northern Mexico.

HABITAT:
Prairie grasslands, streams, soft soils, and semi-deserts.

ADAPTATIONS:
The Great Plains toad is a nocturnal amphibian. As with all amphibians, it is cold blooded and cannot keep moisture inside its body. Therefore it is most active at night when humidity is highest. During the day it stays hidden underground or in a shelter to protect itself from the drying sun and to help regulate its body temperature.

Of all the North American frogs and toads, the Great Plains toad has the longest-recorded shrill call, lasting for close to a minute. The call makes a chiga-chiga-chiga sound that is rattling and pulsating. This call is mainly used to attract females. The longer and more frequent the call, the more attracted the female becomes. Sometimes there will be two male toads competing and while one toad frequently calls, the other toad stays silent. Once the female approaches, the silent male will intercept and claim the female even though he did none of the work to get her there.

REPRODUCTION/GROWTH:
Reproductive maturity begins at the age of two for both the male and female and they will breed between the ages of two and five. Breeding occurs in the spring and summer months between April and September, usually in heavy rains. Mature females usually lay fewer than 10,000 eggs but can lay up to 45,000 eggs. Eggs will hatch after two or three days. The eggs are laid in streams and ponds, but if the water doesn’t stay around long enough, the larvae may not reach metamorphosis. Tadpoles will metamorphose during the larval periods, which can last anywhere from 18 to 49 days. Once metamorphosis has completed there will be small toads.

PREY/PREDATOR:
Prey to larger mammals (skunks and badgers), birds, and snakes.
Predator to arthropods and small invertebrates.

WILD DIET:
Moths, caterpillars, flies, beetles, ants, and other small arthropods.

STATUS:
IUCN lists as Least Concern and population is stable but slightly declining.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Bufo Cognatus. AmphibiaWeb. 2009. http://www.amphibiaweb.org
  2. Elliott, Lang, Gerhardt, Carl, & Davidson, Carlos. The Frogs and Toads of North America. New York. Houghton Mifflin Co. 2009.
  3. US Fish and Wildlife Service. 2009. http://www.fws.gov/rockymountainarsenal/wildlife/reptilesamphibians/toads.htm.
  4. Hammerson, Geoffrey A. Amphibians and Reptiles in Colorado. Niwot, Colorado. The University Press of Colorado. 1999.
  5. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2009. http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/54612/0.


Published: September 2010

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