How fast do the tiny toads grow?

The Question: I work at a farm in northeast Pennsylvania. I read your article about toadlets. I have been enjoying seeing hundreds of these mini toads as I garden. Mine are still only about an inch long. How long does it take for them to reach full size?

Submitted by: Victoria, Pennsylvania, USA

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The Short Answer: Victoria, glad to hear you are enjoying the toads. There are so many tiny toads all over my yard right now that I worry about inadvertently stepping on them. In northeastern Pennsylvania where you live, there are two toad species, the American toad (Anaxyrus americanus – formerly Bufo americanus) and the very similar Fowler’s toad (Anaxyrus fowleri – formerly Bufo fowleri). The easiest way to tell the two species apart is to flip them over and look at their bellies. If it has dark speckles, it’s probably an American toad and if not, it’s probably a Fowler’s toad.

toad-growth-chartBoth species start out as tiny toadlets, about 1 cm (3/8 inch) long. They grow rapidly in the first year and then slow down dramatically. By their second birthday, they are pretty close to full grown. Males generally begin to breed in their second year, females in their third. This chart is based on data for the American toad from Frogs of the U.S. and Canada by C. Kenneth Dodd. The book lists the size range of adult American toads as 5-9 cm (2-3.5 in.). The largest American toad on record was a whopping 15.5 cm (6.1 in.). Fowler’s toads are somewhat smaller at 4.5-8.2 cm (1.7-3.2 in.), with a record size of 9.2 cm (3.6 in.).

If your toadlets are already about an inch (2.5 cm), then they must have been early hatchers this year that have done very well eating small insects around your garden. Toads are pretty voracious insect eaters. One study estimated that an adult American toad could eat nearly 10,000 insects a year!

Sources: Dodd, C. (2013). Frogs of the United States and Canada. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Cite this article as: Pelletier, TC. (July 22, 2015). How fast do the tiny toads grow? Retrieved from http://askanaturalist.com/tiny-toad-growth/ on April 21, 2019.

8 thoughts on “How fast do the tiny toads grow?”

  1. hi I was wondering if you know how fast those
    a tiny black Brazilian toad with circles on top grow because im keeping some as pets, and I don’t know if their eating the bugs I gave theme.

  2. I saved a bunch of American Toads from my pond filter. They are now toadlets living in a couple nice habitats that we created. We want to keep 2 females. How old do they have to be before we can sex them? I know the difference, but, when can we tell?

  3. Hello, i have 5 toadlets i am keeping, they are fairly small and i was wondering since one of them is kind of a dark red clay color, then another is a greyish brown colour, then two are a dark grey/black colour, and the last one is a regular american toad brown. Do i have different toad species in the tank? i found them in the same place though.

  4. We found what I believe to be a Fowler’s toad last June( June 18’). Well my daughter wanted to keep it as a pet since we notice it’s front right leg was half gone. We don’t know what happened but it was already healed, he just doesn’t have his claw/hand. Anyways, it’s now the end of March of 2019 and he is still the same size? He’s only about an 2 inches, maybe less. Feeding him is a nightmare because he is so small. Finding things small enough to fit into his mouth is almost impossible. We try though! We buy mini crickets, pellets, mealworms, and he loves the little pillbugs! We feed him everyday but he’s just not growing. Is this normal?

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