Gulf Coast Toad - Incilius nebulifer


*The colored areas of the map above represent parishes with currently known records for the given species
 (Source: Jeff Boundy, LA Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries). By no means does it represent the full range of the species in the state, nor does it necessarily mean that a species can be found throughout the parish with the record. This is provided as a guide to where you might be able to find these species in the state and to aid in identification. A descriptive explanation of the range of each species can be found in the text below.

Other Common Names:  Coastal Plain Toad

Subspecies:  No subspecies recognized.

Description:  This is the largest toad native to the southeastern United States; adults can reach upwards of 5 inches snout-vent length, but are typically closer to 3 inches. This species has a narrow creamy stripe down the middle of the back and a wider creamy white stripe along each side of the body, surrounded by a relatively uniform brown background. These toads will occasionally have yellow flecks on the back. The strongest feature to distinguish them from the other toads in the area is their thin and tall cranial crests; they form a wide depression on top of the head. The crests split in front of and behind the eyes and connect to large, triangular parotoid glands.

Similar Species:  Juveniles are often less strikingly patterned than adults, almost resembling sympatric toad species, but Gulf Coast Toads always have their distinctive cranial crests and a generally pointier and more defined head.

Species Range:  The Gulf Coast Toad is found in extreme southern Mississippi westward to east central and southern Texas, through Mexico, and south to Costa Rica. Disjunct populations occur along the Arkansas-Louisiana border as well as the Big Bend region of Texas.

Louisiana Range:  The southern half of the state, with disjunct populations in the northeastern Louisiana parishes of Morehouse and Richland.

Habitat:  Gulf Coast Toads can be found in a wide variety of warm and moist habitats. They are purported to be salt-tolerant because of how far out in coastal brackish marshes they have been observed. They are most commonly observed in urban habitats, but can also be common in natural areas including hardwood forests, swamps, and marshes.

Natural History:  The Gulf Coast Toad can reach sexual maturity in just one year after hatching (Blair 1953). Gulf Coast Toads are known to hybridize with Southern Toads (Anaxyrus fowleri) in the lab, but only produce sterile males or unviable offspring (Volpe 1960). Like other toads, the Gulf Coast Toad lays eggs in long strings containing up to 5000 eggs or more!

Call: The advertisement call of the male Gulf Coast Toad is a series of low-pitched trills lasting 2-6 seconds each. Many males will come together in a breeding chorus and call while floating or sitting in shallow water or sitting at the water’s edge. 

Best Time and Place to Observe:  Gulf Coast Toads can be observed year-round in certain areas, but they are by far most active during the breeding season in early to mid spring. Gulf Coast Toads are active during warm nights year-round, but mostly during the summer, when they are hunting for invertebrates to eat. Because of this, they are often seen under porch lights catching bugs drawn to the luminescence. When inactive, they can be found under logs and other large objects, or in mole and crawfish burrows.

Global Conservation Status:  Gulf Coast Toads have a relatively wide distribution in the south-central United States and Mexico, a presumed large population, and tolerate a broad range of habitats, and thus, are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. Their NatureServe Global Conservation Status Rank is G5 (Secure).

Federal Conservation Status:  None

Louisiana Conservation Status:  Gulf Coast Toads do not have any special status in Louisiana.

Author's Remarks:  This is a very common toad in suburban and urban areas in southern Louisiana. It is often seen on porches, patios, and driveways at night. It can also be found in more natural habitats.

Species Account Authors: Brad M. Glorioso and James Erdmann

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