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Narrow-Mouthed Frogs: Microhylidae

Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad (gastrophryne Carolinensis): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: The eastern narrow-mouthed toad has the typical teardrop-shaped body common to many members of this family. Its back and legs are light brown, gray, or reddish brown with patterns of darker brown lines or spots. The sides have a more faded color than the back. The frog's snout comes to a point, and it has a fold of skin that crosses the head just behind its small eyes. Its feet are unwebbed, and each of the hind feet has a spade for digging. Males have a dark throat, but the females do not. The frogs can reach 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) long from snout to rump.

Geographic range: Eastern narrow-mouthed toads live in the southeastern quarter of the United States. They have also been Eastern narrow-mouthed toads live in the southeastern quarter of the United States. They have also been introduced to two islands in the Bahamas and to Grand Cayman Island. (© Kenneth M. Highfill/Photo Researchers, Inc.) introduced to two islands in the Bahamas and to Grand Cayman Island.

Habitat: Although members of this species can survive in many on-land habitats, they prefer areas along the coastline. They usually stay off mountains and out of dry places.

Diet: Eastern narrow-mouthed toads eat mainly small invertebrates, especially ants, termites, and beetles that are 0.25 inches (6 millimeters) long at most.

Behavior and reproduction: During the day, eastern narrow-mouthed toads usually stay beneath leaves, under stones, or in other hidden spots along the ground. When discovered, they typically try to hop quickly away. They come out at night, which is when they eat. By remaining active at night and hiding during the day, the toads can avoid many of their predators, including garter snakes, bullfrogs, and large wading birds called egrets. When they are attacked, however, the toads can ooze a bad-tasting substance from their skin. This substance may be poisonous to a predator. The substance provides protection from the predators as well as the biting ants that the toad eats.

During wet periods of the year, the males begin calling for females from ponds and small rain-filled pools of water or from hidden places on land along shore. In southern areas, such as Florida, the males call from April to October. In cooler areas, they begin calling later and stop earlier. The calls last about 4 seconds and sound like the "baa" of a lamb. When a female finds a male, he holds onto her back with his front arms and makes a gluey substance with his belly that helps him stick to her. The female then lays her approximately five hundred eggs in several batches. The eggs float on the top of the water, hatch into tadpoles, which then turn into froglets. In warmer areas, the tadpoles may change into froglets in as little as twenty days, but in colder places, they may need as long as sixty-seven days to make the change.

Eastern narrow-mouthed toads and people: For most of the year, people only see this species in the wild if they search for them by flipping over rocks, logs, and piles of leaves that lay on the ground. The toads' loud mating calls, however, may help people find them during the mating season.

Conservation status: Neither the World Conservation Union (IUCN) nor the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service consider this species to be at risk. It is very common throughout the southeastern United States, including suburbs where people live. ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceAmphibiansNarrow-Mouthed Frogs: Microhylidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Wilhelm Rainforest Frog (cophixalus Riparius): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, NARROW-MOUTHED FROGS AND PEOPLE