Fun Houston Toad Facts For Kids

Hannah Bowyer
Nov 17, 2022 By Hannah Bowyer
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Houston toads are an endangered species that is found in Texas.

The Houston toad is an endangered amphibian. It is found exclusively in Southern Texas between four counties. The toad was named in 1953 after being first discovered 13 years earlier in 1940. It is thought that there are only between three and four thousand of these species remaining in the world.

The Southern toad is between 2-3.5 in (5.1-8.9 cm) long with the male being smaller than the female.

They have survival mechanisms including camouflage and the ability to secrete poison however because they are slow-moving and therefore exposed to predators, in conjunction with habitat loss and weather events, their population has drastically decreased and efforts are currently underway in Texas, including at Houston Zoo in Texas, to protect this endangered species.

If you like the below facts about the Houston toad and want to know more about the amazing world of animals and in particular frogs, try our African bullfrog and pool frog fact lists.

Houston Toad Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Houston toad?

The Houston toad is an amphibian. It belongs to the Animalia kingdom. The Houston toad is of the Anaxyrus genus and its binomial name is Anaxyrus houstonensis.

What class of animal does a Houston toad belong to?

The Houston toad belongs to the Amphibia class of animals.

How many Houston toads are there in the world?

The Houston toads are an endangered species meaning there is only a small number of these toads in the world. It is estimated that there are between three and four thousand mature Houston toads remaining around the world.

Where does a Houston toad live?

The Houston toad lives in Texas in the United States, predominately in oak or pine woodlands and in savanna with some vegetation. Bastrop county is one of the areas where they live and have been given designated habitat since they were discovered. During cold conditions and very hot, dry weather they protect themselves in small burrows.

What is a Houston toad's habitat?

The Houston toads are terrestrial animals. There are only four small Houston toad habitat areas remaining in Texas.

Previously they could be found across the central and eastern parts of Texas. The Houston toad is found exclusively in its habitat areas of woodlands of pine or oak as well as in savannas with open areas that feature bunchgrass and phorbs, a flowering plant.

Adults live in soils that are sandy and tadpoles in water such as ponds.

In these habitats, the Houston toad prefers canopy cover and vegetation including post oak, loblolly pine yaupon holly, and bluejack oak amongst others. The Houston toad is commonly found in areas where the soil is sandy and loose and with a depth of more than 40 in (101.6 cm).

Who do Houston toads live with?

In general, Houston toads lead solitary lives. The male toads gather in groups for mating and mating pairs can also be seen at the time of breeding.

How long does a Houston toad live?

The Houston toad's life span tends to be between two and three years long.

How do they reproduce?

The key breeding times for Houston toads are from February to June when the water temperature is between 40.1-73.4 degrees F (4.5-23 degrees C). A male Houston toad will emit mating calls, a clear trill that is high pitched.

It does this by causing its throat and vocal sac to swell, with the goal of attracting a  toad to mate with. This happens at night in shallow ponds, with the males Houston toad call beginning shortly before sunset.

The female Houston toad will respond based on the characteristics of the male toad's call. Once the match has been made, water sources become the breeding pond, with small pools and ponds that are isolated being the preference.

The body of water needs to be slow-moving to support tadpole development. The female Houston toad will lay single-egg strands that amount to thousands of toad eggs.

These toad eggs are then fertilized by the male externally. Within the next seven days, the eggs will hatch into tadpoles, which take a further 15-100 days before turning into toadlets.

What is their conservation status?

Sadly, the Houston toad is an endangered species. This is largely due to the destruction of the toad habitat as well as a range of factors including the presence of automobiles, the use of pesticides, and the presence of their predators.

The Houston toads move via short-distance hops. This means they easily fall victim to their predators as they are unable to escape.

There are important conservation efforts underway at Houston Zoo to protect the Houston toad. Houston Zoo has a 1200 sq ft (111.5 sq m) quarantine facility for the Houston toads.

This supports captive breeding and releasing of Houston toad egg strands into the wild. The Houston Zoo facility is run by toad specialists to ensure the Houston toads are protected.

Houston Toad Fun Facts

What do Houston toads look like?

The Houston toad is very small. Its top is usually light brown however its coloration varies between light brown and red to purplish-gray. The toad often has a number of spots, dark brown or black. It has an underbelly that is pale cream-colored and spotted. Males are smaller than females.

The Houston toad is covered in brown or black spots as seen in this image

How cute are they?

If you like toads then the Houston toad is kind of cute. But if you don't have an affinity for toads then they probably aren't the cutest creatures. They have a permanent look of disappointment on their faces. If we were an endangered species, we'd probably feel the same too.

How big is a Houston toad?

Houston toads are very small, they are a quarter or half the size of the world's smallest shark, the dwarf lantern shark.

How fast can a Houston toad move?

The Houston toad cannot move very fast at all. It moves by making very short hops.

This means it's a big task to outrun predators such as snakes and large birds. To make up for their slow speed, they have coloration on their skin and a rough texture so they can camouflage.

The Houston toad's skin also puts out chemicals that are foul-tasting at the least and poisonous at the most to some of their predators.

How much does a Houston toad weigh?

The exact weight is unknown but they are very small so probably don't weigh very much at all!

What are the male and female names of the species?

Both males and females in the Houston toad species are called by the same name.

What would you call a baby Houston toad?

There is no scientific name for a baby Houston toad but a toadlet is sufficient.

What do they eat?

Pollen, algae, and even the jellyfish that have encased recently hatched toads are the primary food sources for tadpoles. Adult toads are more easily satisfied than the tadpoles with ground beetles constituting the main diet of the adults.

The adult Houston toads are sometimes known to eat ants and small toads.

One of the main ways they catch their prey is by digging a small hole in the soil around their habitat, they rest in the soil, waiting for their prey to pass. When it does, they leap from the depression to capture their prey.

Are they poisonous?

The chemicals that the Houston toad secretes taste foul to some predators and are poisonous to others. These chemicals are also known to be useful in some medicines for nervous disorders and even heart disease in humans.

Would they make a good pet?

Probably not! These toads are an endangered species and as a result of the small toad populations, it would be best not to have one as a pet so you aren't interfering in important breeding efforts to support the populations.

Did you know...

There are only 3000-4000 mature toads left in their habitat.

Is the Houston toad endangered?

The Houston toad is an endangered species. The Houston Zoo is undertaking important conservation efforts to protect these toads and help build up the Houston zoo toads population through their captive breeding program and quarantine facility.

The Houston toad is also threatened by fire ants. These fire ants kill the young toadlets as they transition from the breeding ponds to their habitat on land. Because the population of these toads is very small, the fire ants killing the toadlets en-route to their habitat area affects the breeding efforts significantly.

They are also affected by drought, which can have an impact on the water environments they rely on for breeding such as ponds and rain pools.

Another reason for the decline in the populations of the toad is the creation of permanent ponds in their habitats. This larger water area spreads out the habitat area between the males and females making it more difficult for the females to heed the mating calls that lead to successful breeding.

What survival mechanism does the Houston toad have?

The ability of the Houston toad to secrete chemicals that are bad-smelling and sometimes poisonous to its predators is its main survival mechanism.

The Houston toad also has the ability to camouflage themselves using their rough skin and coloration. Unfortunately, because the toad is slow-moving, it is difficult for adults to protect both their fellow adults and offspring, and as a result, the toads have a small range and trouble breeding.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other amphibians from our poison dart frog facts and marsh frog facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable horned toad coloring pages.

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Written by Hannah Bowyer

Bachelor of Communication specializing in Media Arts Production, Communication, and Media Studies

Hannah Bowyer picture

Hannah BowyerBachelor of Communication specializing in Media Arts Production, Communication, and Media Studies

A fitness enthusiast with a passion for helping people find their best selves, Hannah is a qualified personal trainer who is currently training to be a yoga instructor. She is also knowledgeable about mindfulness and meditation. Hannah has lived and worked in many different countries across Asia and the Americas over the last four years, and loves to write about her travels. Her dynamic nature is reflected in her love for running, whether it's towards a plane or a personal best.

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