CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Red-spotted Toad - Anaxyrus punctatus

Baird and Girard, 1852)

(= Bufo punctatus)
Click on a picture for a larger view



Red-spotted Toad California Range Map
Range in California: Red

Dot-locality range map

Listen to this toad:

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One short call




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Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad
Adult male on breeding pond, between advertisement calls, San Diego County Adult, San Diego County Adult, San Diego County
Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad
Recently-metamorphosed juvenile aprox. 3/4 inches in length ( 2cm )
Riverside County
Adult, San Diego County
   
Red-spotted Toads From Outside California
Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad
Adult, Santa Cruz County, Arizona Adult, Pima County, Arizona Adult, Pima County, Arizona
Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad
Underside of adult, Pima County, Arizona Adult, Santa Cruz County, Arizona Recently-metamorphosed juvenile, Washington County, Utah
Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad
Recently-metamorphosed juvenile, Santa Cruz County, Arizona. Recently-metamorphosed juvenile, Santa Cruz County, Arizona. Recently-metamorphosed juvenile, Washington County, Utah
Red-Spotted Toad Red-Spotted Toad Red-Spotted Toad
Adult, Brewster County, Texas
Juvenile Brewster County, Texas
   
Breeding Adults, Eggs, and Tadpoles
Red-spotted Toads Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad
Male and female in amplexus, with eggs on bottom of pool, San Bernardino County © Todd Battey Adults in amplexus, male on top, female on bottom, San Diego County
Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad
Adult male calling at night, sitting on a mat of vegetation on a small pond in San Diego County Adult male calling at night,
San Diego County
Adult male calling at night,
San Diego County
  Red-spotted Toad  
  Adult male calling at night,
Pima County, Arizona
 
Red-spotted Toad eggs Red-spotted Toad eggs Red-spotted Toad eggs
Red-spotted Toads lay their eggs singly or in a small cluster. Other North American toads lay their eggs in strings. Two small egg clusters on aquatic vegetation at the surface of a small pool in a desert wash in Yavapai County, Arizona. Eggs, San Bernardino County
© Todd Battey
Red-spotted Toad tadpole Red-spotted Toad tadpole
Tadpole, Riverside County Tadpole, Riverside County
Red-spotted Toad tadpoles Red-spotted Toad tadpoles Red-spotted Toad tadpole
Tadpoles stranded in drying spring water overflow, Riverside County. The small black patch at the bottom of the picture on the left is the same group of tadpoles shown close-up in the picture on the right. Most of these tadpoles were still alive, so the water had only recently dried up and stranded them, probably dooming them to dessication. Tadpoles in spring overflow,
Riverside County
  Red-spotted Toad tadpoles  
  Many tiny recently-transformed juvenile Red-spotted toads at the edge of a road culvert pool, Terrell County, Texas
 
     
Habitat
Red-spotted Toad Habitat Red-spotted Toad Habitat Red-spotted Toad Habitat
Habitat, San Diego County -
close-up of spring in desert palm oasis
Habitat, San Diego County
desert creek
Habitat, Riverside County,
runoff from desert spring
Red-spotted Toad Habitat Red-spotted Toad Habitat  
Breeding habitat, San Diego County Habitat, San Diego County
desert palm oasis
 
     
Short Videos
Red-spotted Toad Red-spotted Toad tadpole Red-spotted Toad tadpoles
A male Red-spotted Toad calls at night in San Diego County. California Treefrogs are calling in the background. Tiny toadlets still transforming from tadpoles crawl around on a mat of algae in a desert pond in San Diego County.
Red-spotted Toad tadpoles in a small desert pond in San Diego County
  Red-spotted Toad  
  Several calling male Red-spotted toads at night in a desert creekbed in Yavapai County, Arizona, refuse to call while the camera lights are on them.  
     
Description
 
Size
Adults are 1.5 - 3 inches from snout to vent ( 3.8 - 7.6 cm). (Stebbins, 2003)

Appearance
A small toad with dry, warty skin, a flattened head and body, and a pointed snout.
Cranial crests are weak or absent.
Parotoid glands are round and about the size of the eye.
Pupils are horizontal.
Color and Pattern
Olive, brownish, light gray above, with red or orange warts, which give this toad its name.
White or cream below with or without spotting.
Male/Female Differences
Male throat is darkened, female throat is pale.
Young
Young have many red warts with yellow under the feet.
Larvae (Tadpoles)
Tadpoles begin as black with bronze flecks on the venter, then become black with faint light mottling.

Life History and Behavior
Activity
Nocturnal, remaining underground or underneath surface objects during daylight, but occasionally seen moving about in daylight or resting at the edge of breeding pools in the breeding season.
In arid regions, toads probably do not move far from water sources.
Presumably hibernates during winter cold and during dry periods.
Movement
Slow moving, often using a walking or crawling motion along with short hops.
A good climber, easily climbing over rocks.
Defense
As most toads do for defense, this toad relies on parotoid glands and warts which can secrete a poison that deters some predators.
Territoriality
Males defend breeding territories, wrestling and amplexing other males who come in to their territory.
Longevity
Longevity is under 6 years, averaging about 2 years. (Lannoo, 2005)
Voice  (Listen)
This toad's call is a prolonged loud high-pitched musical trill, lasting up to 10 seconds, which is produced at night .
Diet and Feeding
Eats a wide variety of invertebrates.
Prey is located by vision, then the toad lunges with a large sticky tongue to catch the prey and bring it into the mouth to eat.
Breeding
Reproduction is aquatic.
Fertilization is external, with the male grasping the back of the female and releasing sperm as the female lays her eggs.

The reproductive cycle of Red-spotted Toads is similar to that of most North American Frogs and Toads. Mature adults come into breeding condition and move to water. Breeding takes place in pools, springs, temporary ponds, intermittent streams, and cattle tanks. Males call at night to advertise their fitness to competing males and to females from various locations at a breeding site - in shallow water, on dry land, on exposed rocks, from burrows, or from under rocks. Males and females pair up in amplexus and the female lays her eggs as the male fertilizes them externally. The adults leave the water and the eggs hatch into tadpoles which feed in the water and eventually grow four legs, lose their tails and emerge onto land where they disperse into the surrounding territory.

Mating and egg-laying occur from March to September. In the California deserts, most breeding occurs from April to June.
At streams, breeding may span 2 - 4 weeks, but when triggered by rainfall at temporary rain pools, it may span only 1 - 5 nights.
Eggs
Eggs are laid underwater. Red-spotted toads are the only toads in North America that lay eggs singly instead of in a long gelatinous string. Clutches can contain anywhere from just a few to as many as 5,000 eggs, with an average of 1,500. (Tevis, 1966 cited by Sullivan in Lannoo, 2005)
Tadpoles and Young
Tadpoles metamorphose after about 8 weeks.
Recently-metamorphosed juveniles spend some time at the breeding habitat. After that, their behavior is unknown.

Hybrids
Hybridizes with A. b. halophilus, and A. w. woodhousii.

Habitat
Associated with rocky desert streams, and also found in oases, pools in rocky arroyos, cattle tanks, grassland, oak woodland, scrubland, river floodplains. Prefers rocky areas where it can hide in cracks and under rocks.

Geographical Range
In California, this species is found throughout the southeastern deserts, as far north as Death Valley, and in localized populations on the coastal slope of the peninsuar ranges.

Beyond California the species ranges into southern Nevada, southern Utah, southern Colorado and Kansas, western Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona. and south into Mexico including the full length of Baja California.

Full Species Range Map
Elevational Range
From below sea level in Death Valley and in the Imperial Valley to 7,200 ft. (2,200 m.) (Stebbins, 2003)

Notes on Taxonomy
Formerly included in the genus Bufo. In 2006, Frost et al replaced the long-standing genus Bufo in North America with Anaxyrus, restricting Bufo to the eastern hemisphere. Bufo is still used in most existing references.


Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Bufo punctatus - Red-spotted Toad (Stebbins 1966, 1985, 2003, Stebbins & McGinnis 2012)
Bufo punctatus - Desert Toad (Stebbins 1954)
Bufo punctatus - Spotted Toad (Belding's Toad, Canyon Toad, Red-spotted Toad)
Bufo punctatus - Spotted Toad (Storer 1925)
Bufo punctatus (Baird and Girard 1852)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
None known. Widespread declines have not been reported in most of their range, including California. This toad seems to be doing well at historical localities and at sites disturbed by cattle grazing.
Taxonomy
Family Bufonidae True Toads Gray, 1825
Genus Anaxyrus North American Toads Tschudi, 1845
Species punctatus Red-spotted Toad

Baird and Girard, 1852)
Original Description
Baird and Girard, 1852 - Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, Vol. 6, p. 173

from Original Description Citations for the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America © Ellin Beltz

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Bufo - toad
Anaxyrus -
Greek - A king or chief
punctatus
- Latin - spotted - refers to the spotted dorsal pattern

Taken in part from Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained © Ellin Beltz

Related or Similar California Frogs
A. b. halophilus
A. w. woodhousii


More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

AmphibiaWeb

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M.  Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Grismer, L. Lee. Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California, Including Its Pacific Islands and the Islands in the Sea of Cortés. The University of California Press, 2002.

McPeak, Ron H. Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California. Sea Challengers, 2000.

Bartlett, R. D. & Patricia P. Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Amphibians of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Elliott, Lang, Carl Gerhardt, and Carlos Davidson. Frogs and Toads of North America, a Comprehensive Guide to their Identification, Behavior, and Calls. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.

Lannoo, Michael (Editor). Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. University of California Press, June 2005.

Storer, Tracy I. A Synopsis of the Amphibia of California. University of California Press Berkeley, California 1925.

Wright, Albert Hazen and Anna Wright. Handbook of Frogs and Toads of the United States and Canada. Cornell University Press, 1949.

Degenhardt, William G., Charles W. Painter, & Andrew H. Price. Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press,1996.

Davidson, Carlos. Booklet to the CD Frog and Toad Calls of the Pacific Coast - Vanishing Voices. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, 1995.

Conservation Status

The following status listings are copied from the 2017 Special Animals List and the 2017 Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either CDFW list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status, you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.

Check here to see the most current complete lists.


This toad is not included on the Special Animals List, meaning there are no significant conservation concerns for it in California according to the Dept. of Fish and Game.


Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN
 

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