Great Plains Toad

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Great Plains Toad

Great Plains Toad
Anaxyrus cognatus
Bufonidae (true toads) in the order Anura (frogs)

A medium-sized toad with large, dark brown or green, paired blotches on the back and sides. Each blotch is usually encircled with white or light tan and contains many warts. Unlike other true toads in Missouri, the Great Plains toad has a raised hump (called a “boss”) between the eyes. The belly is cream-colored with little or no spotting. Makes a loud, rapid, piercing, metallic, chugging “chee-ga, chee-ga, chee-ga” that lasts 20–50 seconds. The inflated vocal sac of calling males is sausage-shaped and extends forward and above the snout.

Length (snout to vent): 2 to 3 inches. Females are larger than males.
Habitat and conservation: 
Found along the Missouri River floodplain, where it hides in burrows by day. It is best looked for in prairies and open floodplains of rivers; it avoids forested areas. As with most other toads, this species hides in underground burrows by day and emerges at night to feed.
At night it emerges to feed on ants, beetles, and other insects.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Missouri River floodplain, from the northwestern corner to the central part of the state.
Rare in Missouri, but found throughout the Great Plains. A Species of Conservation Concern.
Life cycle: 
Breeding aggregations form from mid-March to early June, always after heavy rains, in flooded fields, rain-filled ditches, and temporary pools. Females can lay several thousand eggs. These hatch in about a week, and the tadpoles metamorphose into tiny toadlets (less than ½ inch long) in about 3 weeks to a month.
Human connections: 
As predators of insects, these amphibians help decrease populations of many insects that are pests to humans. Additionally, their beautiful and strange singing adds to the magic of a Missouri evening.
Ecosystem connections: 
Toads are predators that help keep populations of ants and other insects in balance. They, and especially their eggs, tadpoles, and young toadlets, become food for both aquatic and terrestrial predators ranging from water bugs to fish to grackles to raccoons.
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