Fowler's toad is a medium-sized toad with a light gray, tan, brown, or greenish-gray ground color with paired dark markings on the back. Each dark spot on the back may encircle 1–6 “warts.” There is often a thin white stripe down the back. The belly is cream-colored, and there may be a dark gray spot on the chest. The oblong parotoid gland is connected to a rather shallow bony crest on the head. Makes a short, nasal “w-a-a-a-h,” lasting from 1 to 2½ seconds.
Similar species: Fowler’s toad used to be considered a subspecies of the Rocky Mountain toad (formerly called Woodhouse’s toad), but breeding call studies showed the breeding calls are quite distinct. It occurs in different parts of the state, usually lacks a chest spot, and its oblong parotoid gland is connected to a rather prominent bony crest on the head. Fowler’s toad probably hybridizes with the eastern American toad. Where this happens, intermediate characteristics will occur.
Length (snout to vent): 2½ to 4 inches.
Found over most of the eastern and southern parts of Missouri.
Habitat and Conservation
Found along many Ozark streams and lowlands of southern Missouri. Often found on river sand or gravel bars and in river floodplains where the soil is sandy. As with other toads, this amphibian remains hidden in burrows by day, becoming active at night to hunt.
Eats a variety of insects.
This is the common toad of gravel and sand bars along our many Ozark streams and rivers. It is also the most common toad in the Mississippi Lowlands. Apparently, it hybridizes with the Rocky Mountain toad, in a zone from north-central to central and southwestern Missouri.
Begins to breed in late April (southeastern Missouri) and May (the rest of the state) to early June. A female may lay over 8,000 eggs. The tadpoles usually hatch in less than a week. Toadlets start appearing in late June through mid-July. It takes them two years to reach maturity.
What would a gorgeous night camping on an Ozark river sandbar be, without nature’s symphony of sounds: the lapping of the water, the rasps and chirps of innumerable insects, the calls of whip-poor-wills . . . and the “wa-a-a-a-h” calls of Fowler’s toads?
Like other small amphibians, this toad provides food for several species of predators, including birds, snakes, fish, and mammals. As a hunter itself, this toad checks the populations of many insect species.