Woodhouse's Toad Anaxyrus woodhousii

Family: Bufonidae

General Adult Description: Woodhouse’s Toads have a background color that is typically tan, brown, or yellowish and is speckled with numerous small, dark spots. It has a white underside typically with a single black spot on the chest. A narrow, white or pale line runs down the middle of the back. Like most true toads, the Woodhouse’s Toad has prominent cranial crests between and posterior to its eyes as well as elongated parotoid glands. Adult males have nuptial pads (dark, keratinized pads) on the first and second digits of the forearms that are used to help grasp the female during amplexus (breeding); females lack these pads. It can be easily identified from other South Dakota toads by: 1) the presence of a white underside (American Toads and Canadian Toads have a heavily mottled underside) and 2) numerous, small black spots on its back (Great Plains Toads have 6–8 large blotches often outlined in white).

General Larval Description: Larval Woodhouse’s Toads can be difficult to distinguish from tadpoles of other species of true toads (Bufonidae). Tadpoles are small, black, and may be covered in small metallic gold flecks. The tail fin is clear and rounded at the tip.

Call Description: The call is often described like the bleat of a sheep, or a nasally “waaah” sound that lasts from 1–4 seconds in duration.

Behavior: The Woodhouse’s Toad is primarily nocturnal and is a generalist predator that consumes a variety of insects and small invertebrates. Near urban or developed areas Woodhouse’s Toads will congregate under outdoor lights and catch insects that are attracted to the lights.

Reproduction: This species breeds from late May to late June in lakes, reservoirs, and semi-permanent to permanent wetlands. Like most toads, eggs are laid in long strands and hatch shortly after being laid. Tadpoles will undergo metamorphosis 5–8 weeks after hatching.

Habitat: Woodhouse’s Toads are primarily found in prairie and open grasslands, but can be found in a wide range of habitats including riparian forests, oxbow lakes, and reservoirs. Similar to the American Toad, the Woodhouse’s Toad is considered a habitat generalist and can occur in almost any habitat with sufficient moisture.

Species Range: This species is found throughout much of the central United States. Their distribution stretches from Louisiana up into North Dakota, spreads as far west as Arizona and Utah, and south into Mexico with isolated populations also occurring in the northwestern United States (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho).

South Dakota Range: The Woodhouse’s Toad can be found across a large portion of South Dakota, but appear to be absent from much of northeast quarter of South Dakota. It can be especially abundant in sandy habitats along the Missouri River.

South Dakota Status: This species is not listed by South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

Account written by Drew R. Davis and Alexa R. Kruse

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii)

County level distribution of this species in South Dakota. Map generated from data collected from voucher specimens and photographic records. See About for additional information.

Photographs
Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii)
Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii)
Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii)