10 Types of Toads Found in Arizona! (ID Guide)

Number 1: Splendid Plains Toad

  • Anaxyrus cognatus.
  • types of toads in Arizona

    Identifying Characteristics:.

  • The size of adults ranges from 2 to 4 ½ inches.
  • Coloring is pale white to tan or olive with large, dark-colored pairs of blotches down the back. Lighter tan or white belly.
  • A peak on the top forms a “V” shape from the nose, extending outward on the head towards the rear.
  • Woodland and desert areas can also be found, but grasslands are the most common. Great Plains Toads are found in Arizona, living in irrigation ditches, marshes, quiet streams, and temporary shallow pools.

    Rangemap of the Great Plains Toad:

    During the mostly dormant year, they spend the rest of their time in underground burrows made by other animals. There are only a few years, which are suitable for the great plains toads to reproduce and feed.

    Resembling a jackhammer, the Great Plains Toad emits a call that can endure for over 50 seconds! It is highly likely that you will hear this sound in close proximity well before you manage to locate the toad. However, with its back adorned by symmetrical dark patches, the Great Plains Toad stands out as one of the more easily observable toad species.

    When sizable gatherings of Great Plains Toads are vocalizing, the noise can be almost overwhelming.

    #2. Green Toad Native to North America

  • Anaxyrus debilis.
  • species of toads in Arizona

    Identifying Characteristics:.

  • The size of adults ranges from 1 to 2 inches.
  • Warts with black tips are also frequent. The North American Green Toad has a web-like pattern that sometimes connects black markings with bright yellow-green or green coloring.
  • In females, the throat appears pale yellow to white, whereas in males, the throat is black or dusky brown.
  • The Green Toad of North America lives in southeastern Arizona, preferring areas with few trees and clear land. It can only be found during heavy rains and in very dry climates.

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    North American Green Toad Rangemap:Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

    The Green Toad of North America is referred to by ten distinct names, which vary depending on its geographic location!

    What a mouthful! You may know it as the Sonora Dwarf Toad, the Toad Green Western or the Toad Green Chihuahuan Western, the Toad Green Eastern or the Toad Green Eastern Chihuahuan Eastern, or the Toad Green Little Toad Green Little Toad Green Dwarf.

    Their vocalizations are brief and reminiscent of crickets, lasting for a duration of 7 seconds with approximately equal intervals in between.

    Males lure females to breeding grounds by singing together in harmony. North American Green Toads migrate to temporary water sources such as drainage ditches, rain-fed streams, and small pools in order to procreate.

    #3. Sonoran Emerald Toad

  • Anaxyrus retiformis.
  • Identifying Characteristics:.

  • The size of an adult is 2.5 inches.
  • Resembling the Green Toad found in North America, but with bigger and more noticeable black patterns.
  • Men have deep-toned throats.
  • In the United States, the Sonoran Green Toad resides EXCLUSIVELY in Arizona!

    If you manage to locate one, you should consider yourself extremely fortunate. These creatures inhabit creosote bush flats and mesquite grassland. This toad is active during the night, highly elusive, and inclined to conceal itself within grassy areas.

    The voice of Green Sonoran Toads usually sounds like a high-pitched whistle that lasts for about four seconds, and then it turns into a buzzing sound. They typically call from the tall grasses close to the edge of the water, after the summer rains, usually after nightfall.

    Number 4. Red-Spotted Frog

  • Anaxyrus punctatus.
  • common toads in Arizona

    Identifying Characteristics:.

  • The size of adults ranges from 1.5 to 3 inches.
  • The coloring of the Red-Spotted Toad is characterized by distinctive orange or red warts, along with light gray or olive-red tones. The belly is either buff or white.
  • There are many red-orange warts that cover the entire upper body, including the legs and feet.
  • The Red-Spotted Toad is highly identifiable in Arizona.

    It can be difficult to find debris plants underneath rocks or in crevices, especially because they are mostly nocturnal! Just look for their pale coloring against the rest of their skin, which is adorned with many orange or red warts.

    Red-Spotted Toad Rangemap:Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

    Red-Spotted Toads have the ability to endure losing as much as 40% of the water in their bodies!

    They typically reside near rocky formations with intermittent water supply from streams fueled by rainfall or subterranean springs.

    The sound made by a Red-Spotted Toad is a high-pitched trilling that lasts approximately 10 seconds.

    #5. Woodhouse’s Frog

  • Anaxyrus woodhousii.
  • types of toads in Arizona

    Identifying Characteristics:.

  • The size of adults ranges from 2 ½ to 4 inches.
  • The coloration varies from grey to yellowish or olive green.
  • The stomach is a light tan or buff color with very few dark spots found on the chest.
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    Insects are drawn to the illumination and consume and capture toads’ Woodhouse’s habitats, such as developed areas, floodplains, deserts, and grasslands, including Arizona. It is noteworthy that toads are highly adaptable to various environments. Interestingly, individuals residing in suburban regions will patiently linger beneath street lamps.

    Woodhouse’s Toad Distribution Map:

    The most striking feature of Woodhouse’s toads is their very round and stout bodies, which support a small and short-legged appearance.

    Woodhouse’s Toads have a very brief vocalization that resembles the distressed bleating of a sheep.

    The population of the Arizona Toad throughout the United States is decreasing due to the development of their habitat and breeding with the Woodhouse’s Toad. The Arizona Toad prefers a very specific habitat, which consists of quiet, slow-moving streams or shallow pools with nearby woodland forests. Its coloring is a lighter shade of green and has fewer dark spots compared to the Woodhouse’s Toad. It is similar in size, with an average length of 2-3 inches. While not as common, the Arizona Toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus) is a closely related species to the Woodhouse’s Toad that resides in the United States.

    #6. Colorado River Frog

  • Incilius alvarius.
  • species of toads in Arizona

    Identifying Characteristics:.

  • The Colorado River Toad, measuring 4-7 ½ inches when fully grown, is recognized as the biggest toad native to North America.
  • Its potent venom is produced by the very large glands located on both sides of its head.
  • The pigmentation is a deep hue of brown or olive to gray, with a sleek skin texture and only a couple of bumps discovered on the hind limbs.
  • The Colorado River Toad is known as the “Psychedelic Toad”!

    The toxin from the arachnids can induce paralysis or even fatality in sizable canines who unintentionally consume them. Many creatures are also in danger, and it is even categorized as a regulated compound. Moreover, its poison is unlawfully gathered and employed as a mind-altering narcotic.

    Map of the distribution of Colorado River Toad.

    Although not common, they have a significant number of inhabitants across the arid and hilly regions of southern Arizona.

    The noise emitted by the Colorado River Toad’s vocalization endures for under a second and has been compared to the sound of a ferryboat’s whistle.

    If someone is discovered in possession of the Colorado River Toad with the intention of utilizing its venom as a substance, they may face arrest or monetary penalties. Transporting it across state borders is strictly prohibited, and measures have been implemented to prohibit the utilization of the toad’s venom as a drug in Arizona.


    There are several primary distinctions between Arizona toads, mentioned earlier, and Spadefoots, mentioned subsequently.

  • Spadefoots possess vertical pupils similar to a snake, whereas toads possess horizontal pupils.
  • Their skin is significantly softer and has very few or no blemishes.
  • Their hind legs possess bony, pointed shovels that are utilized for digging into soil, sand, or loose gravel.
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    #7. Excellent Basin Spadefoot

  • Spea intermontana.
  • Identifying Characteristics:.

  • The size of an adult is 1 ½-2 ½ inches long.
  • The coloration is grey, olive, or brown with an hourglass-shaped marking on the posterior region.
  • The wedge-shaped spade on the hindfoot.
  • They can also be found at higher elevations in fir and spruce forests. In the northwestern corner of Arizona, it is common to find Spadefoots in woodland areas or sagebrush flats in the Great Basin.

    Rangemap of the Great Basin Spadefoot:

    The reproduction of Great Basin Spadefoots occurs after the occurrence of rainfall during the spring and summer seasons, in various types of water bodies including temporary and permanent ones like lakes, rivers, and drainage canals.

    Surprisingly, the Great Basin Spadefoot releases a fragrance resembling peanuts when touched!

    While engaging in the process of reproduction, the male emits vocalizations in order to entice potential female mates. This repetitive sound, which endures for approximately one second, possesses a deep and raspy quality, resembling the vocalization of a duck, specifically the call of the Great Basin Spadefoot.

    #8. Plains Spadefoot Frog

  • Spea bombifrons.
  • Identifying Characteristics:.

  • Adult size ranges from 1 ¼ to 2 ½ inches.
  • The coloring varies from ash-brown to greenish with orange patterns, and the muzzle is distinctly round and protrudes like a pug dog.
  • The spade is shiny, ebony, and has a wedge shape.
  • The Plains Spadefoot lives in plains, hills, and river bottoms in eastern Arizona. They prefer loose sandy or gravelly soil for burrowing.

    Range map of Plains Spadefoot:

    Plains Spadefoots can withstand drastic temperature fluctuations in Arizona.

    It can also adapt its digestive system to tolerate a diet of vertebrates, insects, or plant material.

    The call of the Plains Spadefoot is very brief and piercing, resembling the quack of a duck.

    #9. Couch’s Spadefoot Toad

  • Scaphinopus couchii.
  • Identifying Characteristics:.

  • The size of adults ranges from 2 ¼ to 3 ¾ inches.
  • The coloration ranges from greenish-yellow to light brown, with sporadic dark brown or black patches that occasionally create a web-like pattern.
  • The spade is black and has a sickle-shaped design.
  • In southern Arizona, the Couch’s Spadefoot lives in shortgrass prairie and desert brush. It eats many insects including beetles, grasshoppers, and ants.

    Couch’s Spadefoot Distribution Area:

    If the climate continues to be excessively arid, it is possible that they will not emerge from beneath the surface for over a year. In the brief period of precipitation, they have the ability to consume a staggering quantity of nourishment. Couch’s Spadefoots spend a significant portion of the year residing in subterranean tunnels in order to evade the scorching and parched weather conditions of their habitat.

    The primary protection of Couch’s Spadefoots is a potent toxin that has the ability to impact humans.

    If not properly managed, the substance can induce sneezing and excessive tearing!

    The call of the Couch’s Spadefoot, which lasts approximately one second, is brief. It can be likened to the sound a lamb makes, beginning with a higher pitch and gradually decreasing towards the end.

  • Spea Multiplicata.
  • Identifying Characteristics:.

  • The size of an adult is 1 ½-2 ½ inches long.
  • The coloration is consistently brown or gray, with sporadic dark markings outlined in red.
  • A spade is shaped like a wedge.
  • The Mexican Spadefoot has a wide range of habitats, ranging from pine forests to grasslands, and it prefers loose, gravelly or sandy soil. This is especially true in Arizona.

    Mexican Spadefoot Rangemap:Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

    The primary protection mechanism of the Mexican Spadefoot is a hazardous treat for predators, which is a secretion capable of inducing a congested nasal passage and teary eyes.

    The Mexican Spadefoot’s eyes have a unique copper color with black flecks, which make it resemble a marble that looks like a cat’s eye!

    When attracting mates, Mexican Spadefoots produce a metallic, vibrating noise that persists for approximately 1.5 seconds.

    Do you require extra assistance in identifying frogs?

    Give this field manual a try!

  • Peterson Field Guides for Reptiles and Amphibians.
  • Which of these amphibians have you observed in Arizona?

    Feel free to leave a comment down below!

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