Oak Toad
Anaxyrus quercicus

Common Name:

Oak Toad

Scientific Name:

Anaxyrus quercicus



Anaxyrus is Greek meaning "A king or chief"


quercicusis derived from the Latin word quercinus, which means "of oak leaves". This pertains to the general oak leaf like color and pattern of the toad

Average Length:

0.75 - 1.3 in. (1.9 - 3.3 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

Virginia Wildlife Action Plan Rating Tier II - Very High Conservation Need - Has a high risk of extinction or extirpation. Populations of these species are at very low levels, facing real threat(s), or occur within a very limited distribution. Immediate management is needed for stabilization and recovery.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This species is small, with lengths ranging from 0.75-1.25 inches (19-33mm). The background color on this species ranges from gray to nearly black. It has a conspicuous light mid-dorsal stripe that is white, cream, yellow, or orange. On individuals with a lighter background color, 4-5 pairs of dark spots may be visible on the back. The skin is finely roughened with tubercles *1014* 11407*. The bottoms of the fore and hind feet have reddish, orange tubercles *1014*. The male vocal sac is oval or sausage-shaped when inflated *11407* *1014*. Sexual dimorphism is not strong *9286*.

REPRODUCTION: This species breeds from April to September dependent upon the arrival of warm, heavy rains *1014* *11407*. The male mating call resembles the peeping of baby chicks, with high-pitched deafening choruses *11407*. The inflated vocal sac is oval or sausage-shaped *11407* *1014*. Breeding occurs in shallow pools, ditches, cypress and flatwoods ponds. The female lays 500 to 700 eggs *11406* *1014*. Mean egg size is 1.09 mm *11406*. The eggs are laid in bead-like chains of 2-8 eggs *1014*. Hatching occurs after 1 day, metamorphosis takes an average of 26 days, up to 2 months *11406* *11284*. Mature tadpoles measure 17 to 18 mm. They are gray with a bicolored tail and a dorsal pattern of scallops or saddles *9286*. The newly transformed toads are typically 7-8 mm *1014*.

BEHAVIOR: Oak toads are much more active by day than other toads *1014*. During inactivity uses all available cover. This species breeds in shallow ponds following heavy rain *11407*. The voice is like the peeping of newly hatched chicks, although earsplitting during full chorus *11407*. Specimens from other states have consumed various terrestrial arthropods including ants and beetles *9286*.

ORIGIN: This species is native.

LIMITING FACTORS: Much of the preferred habitat of this species has been altered. Natural stands of pine and pine-oak have been replaced with dense loblolly pine monoculture which seems to exclude this and other amphibian species. Populations of this species are seriously threatened by the continued drainage and alteration of pine-oak savanna habitats *9286*.

POPULATION PARAMETERS: Very little data exist on the extremely small population in Virginia. However, data from a study in Florida estimated the population density at two sites to be approximately 0.02 individuals/square meter *9286*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: This species may be closely associated with longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystem which is in severe decline *11332*. Throughout its range it can be found mostly in grassy areas of pine savannas and flatwoods *11284*. This species breeds in shallow pools, ditches and ponds. During other seasons, this species is typically associated with pine or oak savannas with sandy soils *9286*.

References for Life History

  • 1014 - Martof, B.S., Palmer, W.M., Bailey, J.R., Harrison, III J.R., 1980, Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, 264 pgs., UNC Press, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 9286 - Terwilliger, K.T., 1991, Virginia's endangered species: Proceedings of a symposium. Coordinated by the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries, Nongame and Endangered Species Program, 672 pp. pgs., McDonald and Woodward Publ. Comp., Blacksburg, VA
  • 11284 - Wilson, L.A., 1995, Land manager's guide to the amphibians and reptiles of the South, 360 pp. pgs., The Nature Conservancy, Southeastern Region, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 11332 - Mitchell, Joseph C. and Karen K. Reay, 1999, Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Virginia, Num. 1, 122 pgs., Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Richmond, VA
  • 11406 - Duellman, William E. and, Trueb, Linda, 1986, Biology of Amphibians, 671 pgs., The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore
  • 11407 - Conant, Roger and, Collins, John T., 1998, Peterson Field Guide: Reptiles and Amphibians, Eastern/Central North America, 616 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Company;, Boston


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Verified County/City Occurrence

Greensville County
Isle of Wight County
Southampton County
Suffolk City
Surry County
Sussex County
Verified in 6 Counties/Cities.

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