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Identifying Fowler's Toad vs. American Toad: A Visual Guide

 Identifying Fowler's Toad vs. American Toad: A Visual Guide

When exploring the great outdoors, you may come across various species of toads. Two common species found in North America are the Fowler's toad (*Anaxyrus fowleri*) and the American toad (*Anaxyrus americanus*). At first glance, they might look similar, but with a closer look, there are distinct characteristics that can help you tell them apart. This guide will walk you through these key differences.

Skin Texture

Fowler's Toad: Their skin is more heavily covered with warts than the American toad. Look for large, dark warts within the lighter background color.

American Toad: While also warty, the skin of the American toad tends to have smaller, more uniform warts, and a more uniform color.

Parotoid Glands

Fowler's Toad: The parotoid glands (large glands behind the eyes) are either not touching the cranial crest (a bony ridge behind the eye) or are only slightly touching it.

American Toad: The parotoid glands are usually in contact with the cranial crest, appearing to touch or even overlap it.

Coloration and Patterns

Fowler's Toad: Typically, Fowler's toads exhibit a brown, gray, olive green, or rust coloration with dark spots. Each spot usually contains three or more warts.

American Toad: American toads can also display a variety of colors, including brown, gray, or red. However, their spots tend to be smaller and contain one or two warts.

Belly Markings

Photo Needed

Fowler's Toad: The belly is often white or cream-colored with few to no markings. If there are spots, they're typically sparse.

American Toad: The belly of an American toad is similar in color but usually features more distinct, dark spots.


Fowler's Toad: Their call is a long, harsh, and guttural waahh, resembling a nasally human snore.

American Toad: This toad's call is a sweet, prolonged trill lasting several seconds.

Next time you're out in nature and spot a toad, take a moment to observe these characteristics. Whether it's the texture of their skin, the shape of their parotoid glands, or their distinctive calls, each detail can help you distinguish between a Fowler's toad and an American toad. With this guide and your photos, you'll be a toad-identifying expert in no time!


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