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Sonoran Desert Toad
Colorado River Toad

Bufo alvarius

Photo of Bufo alvarius © by Michael Plagens

Photo taken in Rainbow Valley, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA on 13 Aug. 2009 the day after a rare summer thunderstorm.

Grand-sized toads that appear at night when heavy summer downpours leave pools of water and soften the hardened soil within burrows where the toads spend intervening drought periods. Large specimens can be 15 cm or more in length. With their oversized mouths they will gulp just about anything that moves and will fit. Notice the prominent glands just posterior to the eye and the white gland at the rear corner of the mouth.

When threatened these toads often just hunker down exposing their glanded skin. Toxins released from the skin are an effective deterrence against predators. Indeed, eager biting dogs have been poisoned and humans have experimented with the hallucinogenic properties of these excretions. Toads eat huge numbers of alate termites and ants during the monsoon season.

Bufonidae -- True Toad Family

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009