University of Maryland Extension



Toads are closely related to frogs. They are stout, with thicker, dryer skin, well adapted to life on dry land. They are also slower and less adept at jumping than frogs, preferring to just hop along using their short back legs. There are two common species of toads in Maryland: the American toad (see photo) and the fowler's toad. Occasionally, the smaller spade foot toad is also found. Toads are very beneficial to the gardener, as they eat a variety of insects and even small slugs.Toads frequently bury themselves in soft soil during the day or during dry weather. Like all amphibians, they lay their eggs in water in April and May, in long jelly-like strands.

Toads should be encouraged in the landscape by providing a hiding place such as inverted and tipped clay pots and a pool of water to lay their eggs. During the mating season, toads travel in hoards at night to get to water. The males sing a shrill song that attracts females to the ponds. There is no reason to fear toads. They do not cause warts when handled and do not bite. Dogs and cats occasionally suffer discomfort or illness from trying to eat a toad, as they release a toxic, irritating substance from large glands behind their head. Toads have few predators except for the hog-nosed snake, which feeds exclusively on them.

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