The Fowler's Toad - a Toad with an Odor Like Unroasted Peanuts

The Fowler's Toad is a fascinating toad that I have been acquainted with since I was but a little boy growing up in North Alabama. I lived in a suburb without any noticeable outdoor water sources like a pond or a pool- but yet we had many of these toads in our yard. They had taken up residence near the central heating and air conditioning unit located at one end of the house. The condensation from the AC unit would run out onto the ground- and this is where the toads made their home.

Toads are unique amphibians in that regard- unlike most frogs who need to keep their skin damp or wet- the skin of a toad is usually thick and dry. The toad's thick skin helps it to store up water better than its froggy cousins.

As I continued to read through various websites and books regarding this amphibian- the following were my favorite Fowler's Toad facts:
  1. Fowler's Toads have been documented eating slugs, earthworms, sow bugs, beetles, and other small insects. They will only eat the earthworms, however, if their other food options aren't around- which is sort of like me and rutabagas. There is also an account of one New England city that had imported Fowler's Toads to assist with their mosquito problem. The thought was that many toads would eat many mosquitoes. Unfortunately, the town's plan didn't work exactly as envisioned- they now have an issue with too many Fowler's Toads, as well as their original issue of the over population of mosquitoes.
  2. A Fowler's Toad releases a toxin from its parotid glands- which are the glands directly behind the eye ridges. The toxin is released when a predator picks the toad up with its mouth. Most mammals find the toxin distasteful and quickly drop it. However, snakes and birds do not seem to be affected as much by the toxin and continue to happily eat the little amphibian. But, there is a mammal that is an exception. . .
  3. Raccoons are intelligent enough to flip the toad over on its back and eat it via its belly- thereby bypassing the parotid glands and its nasty toxic release. (source)
  4. A Fowler's Toad typically lays between 7,000 to 10,000 eggs which will then in turn hatch in the short period of only 2 to 7 days into little oval black tad poles. It takes another 30-40 days for the tad poles to morph into the tiny little toads. (source)
  5. This toad's scientific name was changed in 2006 from Bufo fowleri to Anaxyrus fowleri. (source)
  6. Fowler's Toads usually only live to be a maximum of about 5 years of age in the wild. (source)
  7. Fowler's Toads were named after S.P. Fowler, an early naturalist from Massachusetts.
And my favorite factoid regarding Fowler's Toads? Fowler's Toads have the distinctive smell of unroasted peanuts (at least according to this source.) For the record, I haven't sniffed one to find out- but I probably will one day.


The Giraffe Head Tree said...

Seen a many of these critters yet knew not of their name or history. Thanks for bringing into light many fascinating facts about a favorite childhood toad, Daniel. Only you...!

Daniel Spurgeon said...

Thanks for the kind comment, Debi! I have seen this toad all my life as well- and never had any idea what its name was or much anything else about it. I'm glad that my kids caught one and brought it to me. There first question is always- what does it eat? :) So now I tell them, lets go Google it and find out. I love the internet.

Carolynn said...

Hi Daniel,
That's a pretty good lookin' toad. I like the factoids too, especially the last one. I would definitely find one and smell it if I had any in my neighourhood.

The Australians made the same mistake importing frogs to control their fly problem. Unfortunately, they didn't take into consideration the fact that there wouldn't be any natural predators to control the inevitable frog population and now have an overabundance of very big frogs.

Thank you for stopping by my place today and leaving such a complimentary note on my doorstep. I'm curious how you found me. Come back to visit anytime.

BTW...Piper is a fabulous dog!


Eve said...

Well this is a great post and actually quite funny for me and Morgan...we were waiting for her bus on Thursday and Morgan said to me..."Do they grow peanuts here mom? It sure smells like peanuts around here."
I've seen a lot of little toads hopping aound this place Daniel!!
Ha Ha Ha!!!

dAwN said...

What a cute little toad. That seems like an oxymoron. LOL
My sisters pup picked up some sort of toad the other day(maybe he thought it was a peanut) and it his mouth salivate and foam..
Wierd critters. next time I am to have to take a whiff...see if I am smelling the peanut toad.

Anonymous said...

I would love to have some of the fowler toads for my pond. We currently have the standard toads in our area. Please email me if you know where I can get some. Thanks, Marc

Anonymous said...

I would love to have some fowler toads for my pond. Do you know where I can purchase some. Email me at Thank you..... Marc

Karl said...

That's a very unusual toad. I haven't seen a toad with an odor like unroasted peanuts. Thanks for sharing.

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Dale said...

The fact that it smells like unroasted peanuts makes it different from other toads.

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Anonymous said...

Wow. My son caught a toad and we weren't sure what it was so we look it up and found this website. We haven't smelled it yet to see if it smells like peanuts. Thank you for helping us. By the way we live in central North Carolina

ShanV said...

Here's a strange "Fowler's Toad" story. Three nights ago, my little dog found a toad under the hose in our backyard. It sprayed her and she instantly started shaking her head. We live in a sub-division in Mobile, AL and our backyard is totally fenced in with a 6 foot privacy fence. I took the little guy out to the front yard and let him go. The next night, she found "it" again in the exact same spot. Same toad?? Who knows, but I did the same thing, and took it out to a different place in the front yard. Now NO JOKE, last night, she found a toad in the exact same spot...what the fudge???? This time, my hubby took it to the opposite end of the subdivision and let it go in the woods....toady gone for good. NOT.....this morning, she went immediately to that spot, and yes!!! there was a toad. Can someone explain the Fowler's Toad to me a little more. I've searched for a hole that they may be coming out of, but there is none. I'm not exaggerating when I say that they've been in the exact same spot each time. Feeling like we've been "toad-cursed". Help. They are cute, but I don't want my dog poisoned. P.S. we don't live anywhere near water so where are they coming from?

Elicia C. said...

How long do Fowler's Toads live in captivity? I've only been able to find information on the American Toad (15-20 years).