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The North American Green Toad: A Small But Colorful Amphibian


The North American Green Toad: A Small But Colorful Amphibian

The North American green toad (Anaxyrus debilis), formerly in the genus Bufo, is a species of toad found in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It is commonly called green toad, with many variants, such as western green toad or eastern green toad, depending on the subspecies.

Western green toad, Anaxyrus debilis insidior

Green toads are typically bright to pale green in color, with black spotting. They are not large toads; adult males are about 37–46 mm (1.5–1.8 in) in snout–vent length and females 44–54 mm (1.7–2.1 in).

Green toads are relatively widespread and at least locally common. They are secretive, however, only readily found during and immediately after periods of rainfall; their habitat is semi-arid and often very dry. Breeding occurs from late March to August, stimulated by summer rains. Males move from drier, terrestrial habitat to aquatic breeding sites where they form choruses. Females are attracted by chorusing males. Breeding aggregations do not usually last long, only a few days.

Two subspecies, originally described as separate species, can be identified, but this distinction is disputed:

  • Eastern green toad, Anaxyrus debilis debilis
  • Western green toad, Anaxyrus debilis insidior

The North American green toad is a fascinating amphibian that deserves more attention and conservation efforts.

Green toads are carnivores (meat-eaters). Their diet is based on various types of insects, such as crickets, mealworms, wax worms, and super worms. They may also eat small butterflies, earthworms, moths, beetles, caterpillars, and even bats.

Green toads secrete toxic substance from the large warts on their backs which makes them unpalatable for most predators. However, they may still fall prey to snakes, birds, mammals, and other amphibians.

Green toads are not endangered, but they face some threats from habitat loss, pollution, disease, and invasive species. They are also collected for the pet trade in some areas. Conservation measures include habitat protection and restoration, monitoring of populations, and regulation of trade.

Behavior

Green toads are nocturnal and little is known of their behavior outside the breeding season. It is thought that they may be fossorial, living underground for most of the year and emerging only in wet conditions, and it is not clear whether or not they estivate.

Green toads are tolerant species that exhibit plasticity towards various stress ecological factors, such as heat, desiccation, and higher salinity. They can persist in places from temperate climates to semi-desert, where their morphological characteristics may vary according to local conditions rather than geographical distance.

Green toads have a thermoregulatory behavior that allows them to adjust their body temperature by basking in the sun or seeking shade. They can tolerate high temperatures up to 40 °C (104 °F), but they prefer lower temperatures around 25 °C (77 °F).

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