Southern Toad
Anaxyrus terrestris

Common Name:

Southern Toad 

Scientific Name:

Anaxyrus terrestris (Southern Toad) formerly Bufo terrestris



Anaxyrus is Greek meaning "A king or chief"


terrestris is Latin and means "of or belonging to the earth"

Average Length:

1.6 - 3 in. (4.1 - 7.5 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

4.5 in. (11.3 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This species has pronounced knobs and high cranial crests giving its head a sculptured appearance *11407*. These knobs are not well developed in young individuals *11407*. The crests running from the knobs converge as they approach the snout *11407*. It ranges in size from 41 to 98 mm (1 5/8 to 4 inches) *11407* *1014*. Its color is generally brown but ranges from red to black *11407* *1014*. The ventral section is grayish, and the chest is spotted *1014*. This species can be found with or without dark spots. Each spot, if present, will have one or two or often more warts *11407* *1014*. It may have a light middorsal stripe which is obscured near the posterior section of the back *11407*. The female is typically lighter in color and larger than the male *1014*.

REPRODUCTION: Adults breed from March through October in shallow water *11407*. The male advertisement call is a shrill musical trill nearly an octave higher than that of the American toad (Anaxyrus americanus). Each trill lasts 2-8 secs and has a rate of 75 cycles/sec *11407*. Two strings of 3000 eggs are laid. These eggs hatch in a few days. Metamorphosis occurs in 1 to 2 months *1014* *11284*. The young toad is 7-10 mm long *1014*.

BEHAVIOR: This species is found in a variety of habitats in the southern United States including pine woods, sweet gum-willow oak, and maritime forests though it seems to prefer sandy, friable soils *1014*. This species typically hides during the day often in self-made burrows. It then becomes active at dusk and forages through the night *11407*. This species is an insectivore and uses visual cues to distinguish and avoid distasteful or low quality prey items *11284* *11406*.

ORIGIN: This is a native species.


POPULATION PARAMETERS: In a lake in South Carolina, this species was found to be very abundant and comprised 29% of the total numbers of anurans in the lake *11406*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: This species is found in a wide variety of habitats but seems to prefer sandy soils *1014*. It requires shallow bodies of water for breeding *1014* *11407*. It can be found in pine woods, sweet gum-willow oak, and maritime forests *11284*.

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
  • 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
  • 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

Brunswick County
Charles City County
Chesapeake City
Henrico County
Isle of Wight County
James City County
King William County
Norfolk City
Prince George County
Southampton County
Suffolk City
Surry County
Sussex County
Virginia Beach City
Verified in 14 Counties/Cities.

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