American Toad (Bufo americanus)
Above Pictures: A male toad calling (top right). Two toads in the act of mating (amplexus)(bottom left). The differences in male and female toads (bottom right). The female toad is on the left.
Description: Toads are generally brown, tan or black. In most cases, females are larger than males and will occasionally have more of a mottled pattern of browns and tans. Males are generally solid brown. The belly is normally light with speckles around the chest. Toads are members of the family Bufonidae, which includes many toad species worldwide.
Habitat/Ecology: Toads can survive almost anywhere that there is a suitable amount of moisture and adequate vegetation. They are frequently found in marshes, ponds, woodlots, prairies, croplands, and even backyards. They are voracious predators that will consume many invertebrates, such as insects, making them desirable to have around. Toads are often eaten by larger animals, such as snakes, birds, and even mammals. Males call from late April to late June. Their call is a continuous trill that can last 5 to 10 seconds. Toads will breed virtually anywhere and it is not uncommon to find their tadpoles in large puddles that form after periods of prolonged rain.
Remarks: Toads are probably the most commonly seen amphibian in the LaCrosse area. They are very tolerant of urbanization and desiccation, and it is not unusual to see a toad hopping through your garden. Toads over-winter in burrows that they dig with the "spades" located on their hind feet. The large gland behind each eye (called a paritonoid gland) holds a noxious substance that is used to deter predators.
I have heard Toads calling in many areas throughout LaCrosse. They assuredly exist within the Myrick Park marsh, Goose Island, and possibly near the Green Island boat landing, to name a few places. Almost any wetland or water body within Wisconsin can probably make a suitable habitat for Toads to breed in.