Animals

Bufonidae - True Toads

by Marcia Malory

The Bufonidae, or true toads, can be found on every continent in the world, except for Australia and Antarctica.

They belong to the order Anura, which includes frogs and toads.

There are other families of Anura that contain both frogs and toads. Bufonidae is the only family that contains only toads, and bufonids are the only toads that are called true toads.

The difference between frogs and toads is based on environment, rather than on heredity. Frogs live in wetter habitats and toads live in drier habitats. There is no clear genetic difference between frogs and toads.

North American green toadThere are over 200 species of bufonid.

They are usually gray, brown or green, and tend to blend in with their surroundings.

True toads range from less than 1 inch to almost 10 inches long.

They have short, chubby bodies, short heads, rough skin that is covered with warts and short, thick font legs.

Their hind legs are shorter than the legs of frogs and they cannot jump like frogs.

Bufonids do not have teeth.

A true toad has glands, known as parotid glands, behind its eyes. The parotid glands excrete a toxin, known as a bufotoxin, when the toad is stressed.

Different bufonids produce different kinds of bufotoxins.

In some cultures, bufotoxins are used as medicine.

Some people use bufotoxins as recreational drugs.

Male and female bufonids have an organ known as a Bidder's organ in front of their kidneys, near their gonads (testes or ovaries).

The Bidder's organ contains undeveloped egg cells.

If a male bufonid is castrated, the bidder's organ will produce egg cells and release hormones that cause the bufonid to develop and uterus and function as a female.

Female true toads usually lay eggs in long strings.

True toads in the genera Nectophrynoides and Nimbaphrynoides do not lay eggs. They are viviparous, which means that they give birth to live young.

Animals that lay eggs are oviparous.

The young of these toads do not go through a tadpole stage after they are born. When they are young, they look like small adult toads, and are known as toadlets.