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  • The toad is actually a “frog”, with a wet slimy skin.
  • The name Colorado River Toad is commonly used.
  • In the Southwest referred to as the Sonoran Desert toad
  • Known as the Bufu Alvarius toad
  • They are the largest North American Toad
  • They are nocturnal and live underground during the day.
  • There are actually 16 species of Bufo
  • The Bufo Alvarius (Colorado River toad) is found in the Southwest
  • The Bufo Marinus is found in Florida and Hawaii.
  • Has been renamed Ollotis alvaria, but this name is not yet standard.
  • They can grow to nearly eight inches.
  • They are mostly found in Arizona, Colorado and North Mexico.
  • They live about 15 years.
  • They do not give us warts.
  • They are extremely poisonous, and can be fatal to dogs
  • They can be poisonous to humans if ingested
  • Skin secretions have hallucinogenic properties
  • These are the frogs licked by people for recreational use


Adults are 4 - 7 1/2 inches from snout to vent (10.1 - 19 cm).

Olive, dark brown, or dark gray, with relatively smooth skin, cranial crests, and long, large parotoid glands behind the eyes. There is a large white wart near the corner of the mouth, and large warts on the hind legs. Young have light warts set in dark spots.


Active on rainy nights, most often from May to July during summer rains. Often seen on desert roads in Arizona during the summer monsoons. Parotoid glands contain poisons which may cause paralysis and even death if ingested by dogs and, presumably, other small animals. The skin secretions have hallucinogenic properties. This is the toad involved in reports of toad licking or the smoking of dried parotoid gland secretions. Some states have passed laws against toad licking, and classify the venom of toads as a controlled substance.


The Colorado River Toad is carnivorous, eating small rodents, insects, and small reptiles and other toad species; like many toads, they have a long, sticky tongue which aids them in catching prey.
This toad eats anything that it can overtake and capture, mainly a variety of invertebrates, but lizards, mice, and toads have also been observed in stomach contents.


Breeds late spring through early fall, May to September.
Eggs are laid in still or slow-moving water, in long jelly-coated strings.
Tadpoles are gray to golden brown. Metamorphosis takes place quickly, usually in less than a month. They grow to be up to 4-7 inches long.


Formerly found in extreme southeast California along the lower Colorado River and in irrigated lowlands of the southern Imperial Valley.
Outside California, found in southern Arizona, extreme southwest New Mexico, and in Sonora and northwest Sinaloa, Mexico.


Sea level to 5,700 ft. (1,760 m.)
Partners is located at 1922 feet above sea level.
Inhabits grasslands, arid desert lowlands, mountain canyons with oaks and sycamores, and pinyon-oak-juniper mountain forests.
They are semi-aquatic and are often found in streams, near springs, and in canals and drainage ditches. They often make their home in rodent burrows and are nocturnal.

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)

Apparently extinct in California, probably due to loss of habitat and pesticide use brought about by modern agricultural methods.
According to a California Department of Fish and Game report, no toads have been collected or observed in California since 1955.

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