Western toads are smaller than the American bullfrog, and they have stocky bodies with short legs. They tend to walk rather than hop, and they are gray to green-colored, with a light-colored stripe down the middle of their backs. These amphibians have beautiful, gold-flecked eyes with noticeable oval pupils. Behind each eye is an oblong swelling, called a parotid gland. They also have reddish “warts” that are surrounded by black blotches, but do not worry: they don’t cause warts on humans.
Habitat: Western toads love to live near springs, streams, meadows, and woodlands; many of which you can find on BLM lands. They are usually near water, but they hibernate in burrows for the winter months. They are most active at twilight, just after the sun has gone down.
Food: These little amphibians are skilled at catching a variety of insects such as ants, beetles, sowbugs, crayfish, spiders, centipedes, slugs, and earthworms.
Fun Facts: Western toads are poisonous. They have enlarged glands (called parotid glands) behind each eye. These glands secrete a white poison that ends up inside the mouth of any predator who tries to munch a toad. The poison causes mouth and throat swelling, nausea, irregular heartbeat, and in extreme cases, death. These small toads pose a danger to pets, so if you’re hiking in western toad habitat, watch your dog closely. People should also be careful; wash your hands after handling any toad, and avoid touching your mouth or eyes until you have done so.