GREAT PLAINS TOAD
The adult Great Plains toad averages 4.8-9 cm in length. On its back it has large dark blotches. Each blotch is boldly bordered by light pigment and contains many warts. The colors of this toad are generally yellowish, brown, greenish, or gray on top. Below is unspotted, cream to white, with a yellow or orange-yellow seat patch. Some specimens have been found with a narrow, light mid dorsal stripe. The head of the Great Plains toad is relatively small with a well-developed cranial crest. Their snout is blunt and rounded.
Found throughout western Kansas to the east edge of the Flint Hills. But also follows the riparian corridor along the Kansas River and then along the Missouri River to the North. Specimens from southern Douglas and northwest Miami counties are each over 50 years old and in need of verification.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences)
Atchison (1), Barber (16), Barton (23), Brown (1), Butler (3), Chase (1), Chautauqua (1), Cheyenne (4), Clark (6), Clay (1), Cloud (1), Comanche (19), Cowley (68), Dickinson (2), Doniphan (1), Douglas (72), Edwards (3), Elk (2), Ellis (177), Ellsworth (2), Finney (26), Ford (8), Geary (5), Gove (4), Graham (43), Grant (5), Gray (8), Greeley (5), Hamilton (1), Harper (15), Harvey (4), Haskell (1), Hodgeman (3), Jefferson (9), Jewell (1), Johnson (2), Kearney (8), Kingman (15), Kiowa (13), Lane (3), Leavenworth (3), Logan (3), Marion (4), Marshall (4), McPherson (10), Meade (54), Miami (1), Mitchell (1), Morton (7), Ness (53), Norton (8), Ottawa (1), Pawnee (21), Phillips (9), Pottawatomie (3), Pratt (4), Rawlins (2), Reno (27), Republic (1), Rice (12), Riley (3), Rooks (2), Rush (15), Russell (1), Saline (3), Scott (23), Sedgwick (17), Seward (24), Shawnee (5), Sheridan (1), Sherman (2), Stafford (40), Stanton (1), Stevens (4), Sumner (20), Thomas (9), Trego (22), Wabaunsee (1), Wallace (6), Washington (3), Wichita (2), Wyandotte (2)
Breeding April to September, usually during or after heavy rainfall. Egg strings are attached to debris on bottom of pool.
The Great Plains Toad call is a high pitched, long mechanical trill resembling the burst of a machine gun. A breeding chorus can be heard for up to two kilometers across the prairies.
Audio recording by Keith Coleman
Available from Kansas
Primarily nocturnal, but sometimes found foraging on cloudy, rainy days. This frog prefers loose soil where burrowing is easy. When in danger, it inflates, closes it eyes, and lowers its head to the ground.
It is a voracious predator of cutworms, which cause extensive crop damage.
Predators and Defense:
Toads have enlarged glands (called the paratoid glands) on the side of the neck, one behind each eye. These glands secrete a viscous white poison that gets smeared in the mouth of any would-be predator, inflaming the mouth and throat and causing nausea, irregular heart beat, and, in extreme cases, death. Toads pose a danger to pets, which may pounce on and bite them. Humans should take care to wash their hands after handling a toad, and to avoid touching the mouth or eyes until having done so.
Growth and Longevity:
KU 186099, Sumner County, Jeff Ehlers, 23 June 1980, 102 mm (4 inches) SVL, Collins (1993).
Frost et al. (2006) placed all members of the genus Bufo from Kansas into the genus Anaxyrus.
Pleistoncene fossils of this species are known from McPherson and Meade counties.
Smith (1946) described the tadpoles of this species from a series taken at Meade County State Park.
1823. Say, Thomas in Edwin James. Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, Performed in the Years 1819 and '20. H. C. Carey and I. Lea, Philadelphia. Pp. 1783.
1980. Kunz, T. H., J. R. Choate, and S. B. George . Distributional records for three species of mammals in Kansas. Trans. Kansas Acad. Sci. 83: pp. 74-77.
2006. Altig, Ronald, Roy W. McDiarmid, Kimberly A. Nichols, and Paul C. Ustach. Tadpoles of the United States and Canada: A Tutorial and Key. Electronic files accessible at http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/tadpole/. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA.. : pp. .
2006. Frost, D., T. Grant, J. Faivovich, R. Bain, A. Haas, C. Haddad, R. De Sá, A. Channing, M. Wilkinson, S. Donnellan, C. Raxworthy, J. Campbell, B. Blotto, P. Moler, R. C. Drewes, R. Nussbaum, J. Lynch, D. Green & W. Wheeler. The amphibian tree of life. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. (297): pp. 370.
2010. Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas. Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. Pp. 400.