Zoology

Habitat Range and Identification of Western Toads



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The western toad or otherwise identified by the scientific name Bufo Boreas is a toad species that is typically found on the western side of North America and is easily identified by its large size. There are three classified subspecies of the western toad; the Boreal Toad, B.b Boreas; the Amargosa toad, B.b. nelson; and the California Toad, B.b. halophilus.

Identification of western toads

The western toad grows to between 5.5 and 13 centimeters long (2.5 to 5 inches). They do not have the crests and the light middorsal stripe that runs on the back. These are the classical characteristics that are used to distinguish the western toad from other toad species. Its parotid glands are comparatively small and have a shape that is slightly round to oval. During metamorphosis, the western toad is usually very small with a faint to absent middorsal stripe. The markings on the California toads are often seen to be much lighter in comparison to other subspecies. Western toads are terrestrial organisms that only require water for breeding purposes.

Habitat and range

Western toads are commonly found in the western areas of North America. Their habitats range from the sea level altitude, to up to 11,000 feet above the sea level. It’s rare to find them in higher altitudes. The favorable habitats for the western toad include wet or dry meadows found in the mountainous areas and riparian forests of California. The riparian forests provide adequate water for breeding. The Boreal Toad’s habitat ranges from the western parts of British Columbia, southern parts of Alaska and in certain sections of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, California, Utah, Colorado and Nevada. The California toad can be found on the far western side of Nevada, and the central and coastal parts of California.   

The individual groups of western toads found in Colorado often maintain specific ranges that differ greatly in terms of size, depending on the particular conditions of the habitat. Breeding toads require open water sources and are known to lay eggs in the same location over and over again. During the breeding seasons, males can exhibit territorial tendencies, particularly in areas where breeding sites are hard to find.

The Amargosa Toad is very restricted in range and is only found in the valley surrounding the Amargosa River. It’s the rarest of the three subspecies of the western toad.

Generally, western toads are poorly dispersed and this can be attributed to the rugged terrain found in their range of habitats.

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