Singing American Toads

American Toad with Vocal Sac Inflated as he sings

The long, trilling call of the American Toad fills the air in northeastern Ohio as April changes to May. The American toad breeding season is nestled between the early spring breeding frogs, like the spring peepers, and the summer breeding frogs, like the gray treefrogs. Female toads follow the calls to find mates.

Three male toads fight to mate with female toad.

Male toad upside down trying to dislodge competitor from mate.

As females enter the ponds, males will attempt to mate with them. This can result in balls of wrestling toads in which two or more males clasp onto a single female. In the two photos above, you can see multiple males clinging to a single female toad.

Dead toad seen in a pond.

These battles during the mating season take a toll on the toads; it is common to see dead toads in the water where they were drowned during a mating battle. The photo above shows one such unfortunate male toad. Such battles occur in other amphibians as well, such as wood frogs that may try to mate with tiger salamanders, and pacific chorus frogs that try to mate with newts.

Male toad in amplexus with female toad.

Mating occurs when the female toad approaches a male. The male toad will then climb on to the back of the female in a behavior known as amplexus. As the female toad lays her eggs, the male will release sperm onto the eggs, occasionally using his hind legs to ensure that sperm and eggs mix.

Male toad fertilizing eggs as they are laid by female toad.

After the eggs are laid, the adult toads abandon them to develop and grown on their own. After hatching, the tadpoles usually develop for four to six weeks before they metamorphose into tiny little toadlets.

American Toad Eggs

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All text and photographs Michael F. Benard
For information on using this photograph, contact me via email at:
mfbenard -{at}- gmail dot com

Some more pages on herps and natural history:
Coloring page of snakes Snake Image Gallery Spotted Salamander Button
Snake Image Gallery Salamander Image Gallery Water Bug Eating Frog Button
Water bug with limpet snails Snake eats frog Redback Salamander Mother with Eggs