How to Tell a Male Toad from a Female

By Jacob Reis

Knowing whether your toad is a boy or girl can help in housing selection when keeping multiple toads together, whether you're trying to breed them or intentionally avoiding breeding them. Luckily, several physical and behavioral characteristics can help you determine the sex of your toad.

Sounds They Make

Female toads are silent. They do not chirp or "sing" as males do. If you hear sounds from one of your toads and you're sure it isn't the crickets you're feeding him, you can be sure that toad is a male. During spring you may often hear these sounds if you live in an area where toads are common. While they do sound like crickets, keep in mind that crickets primarily sing in the fall, while male toads sing in the spring.

Males sing as a mating call and can chirp when being touched as a defense and warning to other toads. If your toad chirps when you handle him, it does not mean he likes it. He's likely telling you to leave him alone.

Size Difference

In a study of more than 500 species of frogs, 93 percent of species examined exhibited sexual size dimorphism -- one sex grows to be larger than the other. In only 3 percent of cases is the male larger; 90 percent of amphibians have larger females. Toads tend toward the majority. A female toad can grow to be much larger than the male, especially when she is getting ready to lay eggs. The average snout-to-vent measurement for adult American toads is between 1.97 and 3.94 inches, with 2.95 inches being average. Larger specimens are likely female while smaller ones are either juvenile or male.

Foot Pads

To assist with amplexus, the mating stage at which male mounts female, male toads in mating season develop dark, horny pads called nuptial pads on the bottoms of their forearms and forearm fingers. These help them grip the female.

Throat Color

In some species of toads, such as the American toad, males develop color differences that are especially prevalent in the neck area. Look at the billowy part that inflates when the toad sings. A darker patch of skin on one toad and a white patch on another are signs of sex difference. The male has the darker throat and the female the lighter.

Housing Selections

Generally, sexually mature male toads should not be kept in the same small habitat. Toads can become territorial and two males may fight. Females may be housed together. A male may be housed with multiple females as well, if breeding is desired. Keep in mind that toads housed together may still refuse to breed, especially if their habitat isn't suitably large.