Woodhouse Toad


woodhouse toadThe Woodhouse’s toad’s (Bufo woodhousii) name comes from Samuel Washington Woodhouse, a surgeon and naturalist who explored the southwestern U.S mid-19th century. At about three to four inches long the Woodhouse’s toad is the largest

toad found in Oklahoma and can be found statewide. Woodhouse’s toad has a light tan to dark gray or brown back, often with scattered paired spots. Warts occur in groups of two to four or more within each dorsal spot. There is usually a white to yellow stripe down the middle of the back and yellow in the thighs.

Woodhouse’s toad inhibits a wide variety of habitats, ranging from grasslands to agricultural areas to residential areas. It prefers deep sandy soils. This toad is primarily nocturnal; it is often seen sitting under lights hunting for insects. It is occasionally active during the day but most often burrows into loose soil or hides vegetation. This toad is a wel­comed guest in lawns and gardens because it eats insects and slugs. A single toad can eat thousands of insects per year.

The Woodhouse’s toad breeds ­in ponds, lakes, flooded areas and other bodies of water lacking strong current. Breeding takes place from March to August, usually after a heavy rainfall. The call is a high-pitched, shrill “whrrr” “waaaah.” The eggs are pigmented and laid in two long intertwined strands of up to 25,000 eggs and are attached to submerged vegetation or debris. The eggs hatch into larvae called tadpoles. The tiny tadpoles are weak swimmers making them easy prey for fish, turtles, birds and other predators. At first, tadpoles lack legs. The hind legs develop first with the front legs developing just before tadpoles transform into small toads. Tadpoles eat organic debris, algae suspended matter and plant tissue.

All toads have enlarged glands, called the pararoid gland, on the side of the neck and behind each eye. These glands secrete a sticky white liquid that gets smeared in the mouth of any would-be predator. This substance inflames the mouth and throat. Humans should take care to wash their hands after handling a toad.

To help attract this toad and other amphibians to your property, here are some tips to improve habitat. Place two or three inches of mulch on the ground and place two small logs and a board over the mulch. A pond as small as 3x3 foot will provide breeding habitat for the toads. You can provide for their need year round by creating a place where amphibians can hibernate in the winter. Hibernation habi­tat is especially important in urbanized areas where natural habitats have been destroyed severely degraded. To learn how to improve habitat for this toad and other wildlife, check out the “Landscaping for Wildlife: A Guide to the Southern Plains” online at Outdoor Store