Woodhouse's Toad

Photo of a Woodhouse’s toad in lawn grass.
Scientific Name
Anaxyrus woodhousii woodhousii
Bufonidae (true toads) in the order Anura (frogs)

The color of Woodhouse's toad ranges from green, greenish gray, gray, tannish gray to brown. It often has a white or tan stripe down the back. There are irregular (not paired) dark brown or black spots on the back with 1–6 “warts” inside each spot. The belly is plain white, but there is sometimes a single breast spot. The oblong parotoid gland is connected to a rather prominent bony crest on the head. Call is a short, nasal “w-a-a-ah,” lasting from 1 to 2½ seconds, similar to the call of the Fowler’s toad, but with a slightly lower pitch.

Similar species: Fowler’s toad used to be considered a subspecies of Woodhouse’s toad. It occurs in different parts of the state, usually has a dark gray spot on the chest, and its oblong parotoid gland is connected to a rather shallow bony crest on the head. Woodhouse’s toad can hybridize with the eastern American toad. Where this happens, intermediate characteristics will occur.

Length (snout to vent): 2½ to 4 inches.
Where To Find
Woodhouse's Toad Distribution Map
Found mainly along the Missouri River floodplain and along streams in the western part of the state.
Mainly found in sandy river bottoms and lowlands, and open, dry areas adjacent to marshes. Like other toads, they hide in burrows by day and become active at night.
A nocturnal hunter of insects and other small prey.
Common. Apparently, it hybridizes with the Fowler’s toad, in a zone from north-central to central and southwestern Missouri.
Life Cycle
Can become active in late March, but breeding begins in late April or early May, peaking in mid-May. Like other species of toads, this species lays several thousand eggs in flooded fields, ditches, ponds, pools, and streams. These hatch in about a week. The black tadpoles begin to change into toadlets by late June or mid-July.
As an insectivore that lives along sandy river bottoms, this species is a friend to canoeists, fishers, and others who like to be near water but not get “eaten up” by various insects. The distinctive calls add to the symphony of an outdoor evening on the river.
This species provides food for several species of aquatic snakes, as well as other predators. As a hunter itself, Woodhouse’s toad checks the populations of many insect species.
Media Gallery
Similar Species
About Reptiles and Amphibians in Missouri
Missouri’s herptiles comprise 43 amphibians and 75 reptiles. Amphibians, including salamanders, toads, and frogs, are vertebrate animals that spend at least part of their life cycle in water. They usually have moist skin, lack scales or claws, and are ectothermal (cold-blooded), so they do not produce their own body heat the way birds and mammals do. Reptiles, including turtles, lizards, and snakes, are also vertebrates, and most are ectothermal, but unlike amphibians, reptiles have dry skin with scales, the ones with legs have claws, and they do not have to live part of their lives in water.