Canadian toad (Bufo hemiophrys)

Canadian Toad


  • Alberta's smallest toad, the Canadian (or Dakota) toad ranges in length from 37 to 75 millimetres (1.5 to 3 inches).


  • Tends to be brown or grey-green in colour with brownish-red warts. There is also a rusty or red-coloured phase. The belly is whitish and spotted with grey.
  • Along with the spots on the belly, the distinguishing characteristics of this toad are the cranial crests which are either parallel or joined to form a raised bump between the eyes.
  • Has two prominent tubercles on its hind feet to aid it in burrowing.


  • Male toads call during breeding season. The call is a soft trill which lasts a few seconds.
Canadian toad distribution in Alberta
  • The Canadian toad has one of the widest distributions in the province. It ranges from the Bow River north into the Northwest Territories.
  • Although widely distributed, the Canadian toad is generally found in river valleys or along the margins of lakes with sandy margins.
  • In central Alberta, distribution for the Canadian toad overlaps with that of the western toad.
Natural History


  • Preferred habitat is aspen parkland up to elevations of roughly 1,200 metres (3,900 feet) above sea level.
  • It is one of the most terrestrial of Canada's amphibians, sometimes found far from water.
  • Habitat areas include grassland, aspen parkland, and boreal forest regions in Alberta.
  • Because of its mottled earthy colour, it can blend in well with its surroundings.
  • Canadian toads are found at highest densities during the breeding season. In the spring, adults will congregate at breeding ponds and begin calling.


  • Feeds on a variety of worms, beetles, and ants.

When Active

  • In Alberta, the Canadian toad is generally active from April to September.
  • Is generally active during the day and burrows into the ground at night. If the evening is warm enough, the Canadian toad is also nocturnal.
Reproduction and Growth
Life Stage Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep
Breeding Breeding Bar: May 10 to July 10
Eggs Hatch Eggs Hatch Bar: June 7 to August 2
Transformation Transformation Bar: June 28 to September 15

Breeding behavior

  • After coming out of hibernation, the toads migrate to breeding ponds in the spring. Breeding can range from May to July.
  • Males can be active and call at unusually low temperatures, around 5°C (41°F).
  • Breeding generally takes place in shallow areas of lakes, ponds or even temporary bodies of water.
  • A female lays a single egg strand numbering up to 7000 eggs.
  • Depending upon the temperature of the water, the eggs will hatch 3 to 12 days later.

Appearance of young

  • Tadpoles are tiny and black.

Growth process

  • Six or seven weeks after hatching the tadpoles transform into juvenile toads.
Conservation and Management


Classified as May Be at Risk in the current Status of Alberta Wildlife report. See the Status of the Canadian Toad in Alberta report at:

In a subsequent detailed status assessment, Alberta's Endangered Species Conservation Committee identified the Canadian toad as Data Deficient—a species for which there is not enough current information to determine its status. See information on the Endangered Species Conservation Committee and Species of Special Concern at:


Habitat is threatened by drought and human activity.

Current management

  • Amphibian Monitoring in Alberta

    The Canadian toad is being monitored under the Alberta Volunteer Amphibian Monitoring Program (AVAMP) and the Researching Amphibian Numbers in Alberta (RANA) program.
Similar Species
  • Great Plains Toad

    For the Great Plains toad, the cranial crests diverge behind the eyes, instead of being parallel or joined like the Canadian toad's.
Related links
  • Amphibians
    Learn about Alberta's amphibians, their biology and how to identify various species. Also learn about the global decline of amphibian species, and efforts made to monitor and conserve them.
  • Toads
    Find out about the common traits of salamanders, and about the different salamander species found in Alberta.


Page Information

Posted: Apr 22, 2009