Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Coastal BC Animals: Western Toad

Western Toad

A Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas)
You don't think of toads being on the endangered list, but that's exactly where the Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas) sits. They remain fairly common in British Columbia, except their population is declining in the southernwest region. Declines are even more dramatic in its southern United States range and in Mexico. For that reason, it was red-listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in 1996.

Living life dangerously crossing a logging road.

Western Toads are the sumo wrestlers of the amphibian world. They have stocky bodies with short legs. With less leg power, they tend to be walkers rather than hoppers. Thick, bumpy skin ranging from pale green, to grey, to dark brown, or even red, protects them while living way from wetlands.

Western Toads breed in permanent and temporary bodies of water. Adults then migrate to forests or grasslands.  They prefer moist environments, but I found this one in the middle of a dusty, dry logging road. They also dig or adopt burrows to go underground.

Look for Western Toads in forests and grasslands.

Eggs are laid in the spring and tadpoles develop quickly. By the end of summer, they transform into small toadlets, continue to develop for an additional two years, and can live up to ten years or more.

Western Toads eat insects and small invertebrates such as spiders, slugs and worms. If one comes into your garden, encourage it to stay. Tadpoles eat algae and plants in their aquatic environment.

You will find Western Toads from spring through fall. They do hibernate, especially in high elevations or colder climates, from November to April.

A distinctive white or cream dorsal stripe.

Why are these toads on the endangered list? You wouldn't think so, but they are under pressure due to habitat destruction, pollution, the spread of disease, introduction of non-native aquatic predators to their breeding areas, and road traffic during migration. Here in BC, the Western Toad is on the Provincial Yellow List, making it an animal of concern.

What can you do? Share information about Western Toads. Advocate for habitat preservation. Monitor breeding sites. Report sightings to the B.C. Frogwatch program. And in case you are wondering, after taking his picture I moved the little critter off the road a safe distance. Logging trucks and toads don't mix. -- Margy

References: Nature BC by James Kavanaugh, B.C. Frogwatch Program (online), and Species at Risk Public Registry: Government of Canada (online).


  1. An interesting read, it is such a shame that so many of our critters are either on or close to being on the endangered list.

    1. When we saw the toad we were riding our quads with a friend. He's the one that told us about the endangered status and why. After we put it off to the side of the road, I noticed when we left it was venturing back on. I'm not sure a logging truck driver would see him there on the rocky road. At least we tried. - Margy

  2. Lovey creatures although I am not a big fan of them... Nice choice for this weeks letter.

    Have a nice ABC-Wednesday / _ Week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc=w=team)

    1. I like them especially when they visit my garden to eat bugs, frogs too. - Margy

  3. Interesting toad, good luck to it. Our local natterjack toad is endangered too and it also has a stripe down its back.

  4. Anonymous2:42 PM

    Great subject! When you see them they look so much like frogs -is the only difference that a frog is more greenish, or?

    1. They are related species. The major differences is skin texture (dry and bumpy vs wet and smooth, land vs primarily water, and leg size with toads hopping vs frogs jumping. - Margy


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy