Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)

A hike in the woods with friends between exams was just what the doctor called for. The surrounding trees and good weather did wonders to relieve stress, and we were ecstatic to find more than a few herps on our walk. One of the herps we found was a Fowler’s toad (Anaxyrus fowleri).

A. fowleri range throughout most of the south eastern United States except for most of Florida and parts of the Carolinas; their range also includes most or parts of states that border the southeast. Fowler’s toads tend to occupy sandy areas close to bodies of water. This makes sense as the toad we found was on a sandy trail next to a lake.

They can be very difficult to identify because of their tendency to hybridize with other toads. Fowler’s toads, however, typically do not have large warts on their front legs, and the dark spots on their backs have about two to three small warts in them as opposed to the American toad’s which contain at most two large warts.

It is uncommonly easy to determine gender in A. fowleri. Sex can be distinguished by the color of their throat. Males have dark throats, while females have pale throats. The picture featured in this article is of a female Fowler’s toad.

A. fowleri call from February to July. Their call has been described as a “weird, wailing scream” and is written as waaaaaaaah. When I listened to a recording of it, I thought it sounded like a mechanical baby which was extremely entertaining.

One really cool thing this toad can do is orient itself with olfactory senses and the position of the sun. This means the Fowler’s toad can tell where it is (North, South, East, West) using the sun and with its nose determine its exact location. By far this is the coolest thing I learned about them.

Anaxyrus fowleri photographed by Megan Massa
Anaxyrus fowleri photographed by Megan Massa

Thank you for reading! I used “Frogs & Toads of the Southeast” by Mike Dorcas and Whit Gibbons and “A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia” published by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.