Fowler's Toad Eastern Spadefoot Fowler's Toad

What are they?

Toads can generally be told from frogs by their usually rather warty rather than smooth skin and by the large 'bump' on the side of the neck called the Parotid Gland. Like frogs, toads start life as a gelatinous cluster of eggs, which develop into tadpoles and eventually into recognizable toads. In general, toads seem to have less of an affinity for water than most frogs and can be found in often quite dry habitats.


We have just two species of toads in the Cape May area which, though a little variable in appearance, are quite readily recognizable.

Eastern Spadefoot      Scaphiopus holbrookii

Length: 4.4-5.7 cm. Spadefoots are elusive and unpredictable in appearance and may be found almost any time through the warmer months if there are heavy rain showers. They spend a large amount of their time below ground and can go several months at a time just waiting for the right conditions to bring them out of their burrows. They get their name from a blackish 'spade' on the heel of the hind foot which is used for digging into soft, sandy soil. Spadefoots can be told easily from other toads by their relatively smooth skin, the black 'spade' on the hindfoot and by the fact that the pupil of the eye forms a vertical slit - it is horizontal in our other toad species. (Photos courtesy of Sam Wilson)
Eastern Spadefoot Eastern Spadefoot Eastern Spadefoot
Note blackish 'heel' on hindfoot

Fowler's Toad      Anaxyrus fowleri

Length: 5.1-7.5 cm. A widespread and common species, often being found in rather dry, sandy habitats as well as wetter areas. Variable in color (including a localized red morph) but generally showing distinctive dark patches on the back and a pale stripe down the spine.
Fowler's Toad Fowler's Toad Fowler's Toad
Red morph
Back markings