This article is about toads. For the Finnish company, see Bufo (company).
Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Bufonidae
Genus: Bufo
Laurenti, 1768

See text.

Bufo is a large genus of about 150 species of true toads in the amphibian family Bufonidae. Bufo is a Latin word for toad.


True toads have in common stocky figures and short legs, which make them relatively poor jumpers. As with all members of the family Bufonidae, they lack a tail and teeth, and they have horizontal pupils. Their dry skin is thick and warty.

Behind their eyes, Bufo species have wart-like structures, the parotoid glands. These glands distinguish the true toads from all other tailless amphibians. They secrete a fatty, white poisonous substance which acts as a deterrent to predators. Ordinary, handling of toads is not dangerous, and does not cause warts in contradiction to folk beliefs. The poison of most if not all toads contains bufotoxin; the poison of the Colorado River toad (Bufo alvarius) is a potent hallucinogen containing 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin. The poison's psychoactive effects are said to have been known to pre-Columbian Native Americans.[1]

Toads can also inflate their bodies when threatened. Males are usually smaller than females and possess a Bidder's organ, an incomplete ovary. The adult male of many species shows a dark throat. Breeding males have dark nuptial pads on their thumbs.[2]


This is a truly cosmopolitan genus, able to live under adverse conditions, and occurring around the world except in the Arctic and Antarctic, Madagascar, Australia (with the exception of the introduced cane toad), and New Guinea and Oceania.

Bufo species in the British Isles

Two species are found in the British Isles: the common toad (Bufo bufo), and the natterjack toad, (Bufo calamita). The former is found almost everywhere in Great Britain, but not in Ireland. The natterjack, which differs in its shorter limbs with nearly free toes (which are so short, the toad never hops but proceeds in a running gait) and in usually possessing orange or red warts, green eyes, and a pale-yellow line along the middle of the back, is local in England, the south-west of Scotland, and the west of Ireland. It is further remarkable for the very loud croak of the males, produced by a large vocal bladder on the throat which, when inflated, is larger than the head.

Psychoactive properties

Several species of Bufo toads produce poison with psychoactive properties. The poison of one species (Bufo alvarius) contains both 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin, while some others contain only bufotenin.[3] Author Lee B. Croft, in his satiric novel, Toadies: The Explanation of Toxicomania in American Society, has coined the word "bufoglossation" to describe the deliberate licking of Bufo toads for hallucinogenic purposes,[4] but psychoactive substance information site Erowid warns against such use because of the cardiotoxins (bufadienolides) included in the toads' poison.[5]


Species in this genus can be quite different, which has led to a recent recommendation in the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History to split the genus, a recommendation that has been rejected (in part) by many taxonomists (see Pauly et al., 2004, Evolution 58: 2517–2535; Pauly et al., 2009, Herpetologica 65:115-128). Instead, the relationships between the different species are formalized by categorizing them into subgenera, such as Anaxyrus and Rhinella.


Colorado River Toad (Bufo alvarius)

Bufo is a large group, and it is usually divided into several subgenera. Frost et al. (2006) removed most of the species of former Bufo to other genera and restricted the name Bufo to members of the Bufo bufo group of earlier authors. However, other authors continue to recognize these subgroups of Bufo as subgenera.[6]

Rhinella is composed of a combination of Rhamphophryne and Chaunus (two subgroups of Bufo in the broad sense). Rhinella is recognized as a distinct genus by some, although other herpetologists disagree and maintain these species as a subgenus within Bufo. Here the species of Rhinella are treated in a separate page (where they may be considered a separate genus or as a subgenus of Bufo).

Subgenus Anaxyrus

Main article: Anaxyrus

Some authors recognize the Genus, Anaxyrus, as a subgenus of the Genus, Bufo. Anaxyrus contains 22 species found in North and Central America including the common American toad, A. americanus.

Subgenus Bufo

Composed of 12 species, this subgenus is found in temperate Eurasia and Japan south to North Africa, the Middle East, northeastern Myanmar, and northern Vietnam.

Binomial name and authorCommon name
Bufo aspinius (Yang, Liu, and Rao, 1996)
Bufo bankorensis Barbour, 1908 Central Formosa toad, Bankor toad
Bufo bufo (Linnaeus, 1758) Common toad, European toad
Bufo gargarizans Cantor, 1842 Chusan Island toad, Asiatic toad
Bufo japonicus Temminck and Schlegel, 1838 Japanese toad
Bufo kabischi Herrmann and Kühnel, 1997
Bufo minshanicus Stejneger, 1926 Gansu toad, Minshan toad
Bufo tibetanus Zarevskij, 1926 Tibetan toad
Bufo torrenticola Matsui, 1976 Honshū toad, Japanese stream toad
Bufo tuberculatus Zarevskij, 1926 Qinghai Lake toad, Round-warted toad
Bufo verrucosissimus (Pallas, 1814) Caucasian toad
Bufo wolongensis Herrmann & Kühnel, 1997

a fossil genus, Bufo linquensis lived during Miocene of China.

Group "Bufo"

This assemblage of 23 species remained outside the main groups. Frost et al. denoted the species in this group as polyphyletic by placing "Bufo" in quotation marks. Presumably, as these taxa are studied, they will be allocated to one or another of the existing groups.

Binomial name and authorCommon name
Bufo ailaoanus Kou, 1984 Ejia toad, Ailao toad
Bufo arabicus Heyden, 1827 Arabian toad
Bufo beddomii Günther, 1876 Beddome's toad
Bufo brevirostris Rao, 1937 Kempholey toad, Short-nosed toad, Rao's pale brown toad
Bufo cryptotympanicus Liu & Hu, 1962 Earless toad
Bufo dhufarensis Parker, 1931 Oman toad - very similar to B. scorteccii
Bufo dodsoni Boulenger, 1895 Dodson's toad
Bufo hololius Günther, 1876 Malabar toad, Gûnther's toad
Bufo koynayensis Soman, 1963 Humbali Village toad, Koyna toad, Chrome-yellow toad
Bufo mauritanicus Schlegel, 1841 Berber toad, Pantherine toad, Moroccan toad
Bufo olivaceus Blanford, 1874 Olive toad, Baluchistan coastal toad, Makran toad
Bufo pageoti Bourret, 1937 Tonkin toad
Bufo parietalis (Boulenger, 1882) Indian toad, Ridged toad, Timber forest toad
Bufo pentoni Anderson, 1893 Shaata Gardens toad, Penton's toad
Bufo scaber Schneider, 1799 Ferguson’s toad
Bufo scorteccii Balletto & Cherchi, 1970 Scortecci’s toad
Bufo silentvalleyensis Pillai, 1981 Silent Valley toad, South Indian hill toad
Bufo stejnegeri Schmidt, 1931 Stejneger's toad, Korean toad, Water toad
Bufo stomaticus Lütken, 1864 Assam toad, Indus Valley toad, Marbled toad
Bufo stuarti Smith, 1929 Stuart’s toad
Bufo sumatranus Peters, 1871 Sumatra toad
Bufo tihamicus Balletto & Cherchi, 1973 Balletto's toad
Bufo valhallae Meade-Waldo, 1909 Pulo Weh toad

Subgenus Nannophryne

These four species were removed from the synonymy of Bufo by Frost et al., 2006. Smith and Chiszar, 2006, implied this taxon should be considered a subgenus of Bufo. They are found in South America.

Binomial name and authorCommon name
Bufo apolobambicus De la Riva, Ninon Ríos, and Aparicio, 2005
Bufo cophotis Boulenger, 1900 Paramo toad
Bufo corynetes Duellman and Ochoa-M., 1991 Abra Malaga toad
Bufo variegatus (Günther, 1870) Eden Harbour toad

Subgenus Incilius

Containing 33 species, Frost et al. moved these members to a separate genus in 2006, first to Cranopsis, then to Ollotis, and then to Incilius.

Binomial name and authorCommon name
Bufo alvarius Girard in Baird, 1859 Colorado River toad
Bufo aucoinae O'Neill & Mendelson, 2004
Bufo bocourti Brocchi, 1877 Bocourt's toad
Bufo campbelli Mendelson, 1994 Campbell's forest toad
Bufo canaliferus Cope, 1877 Dwarf toad
Bufo cavifrons Firschein, 1950 Mountain toad
Bufo coccifer Cope, 1866 Southern round-gland toad
Bufo coniferus Cope, 1862 Evergreen toad
Bufo cristatus Wiegmann, 1833 Large-crested toad
Bufo cycladen Lynch & Smith, 1966 Northern round-gland toad
Bufo fastidiosus (Cope, 1875) Pico Blanco toad
Bufo gemmifer Taylor, 1940 Jeweled toad
Bufo holdridgei Taylor, 1952 Holdridge's toad
Bufo ibarrai Stuart, 1954 Jalapa toad
Bufo intermedius Günther, 1858 Gunther's tropical toad
Bufo leucomyos McCranie & Wilson, 2000
Bufo luetkenii Boulenger, 1891 Yellow toad
Bufo macrocristatus Firschein & Smith, 1957 Large-crested toad
Bufo marmoreus Wiegmann, 1833 Marbled toad
Bufo mazatlanensis Taylor, 1940 Sinaloa toad
Bufo melanochlorus Cope, 1877 Dark green toad
Bufo nebulifer Girard, 1854 Gulf Coast toad
Bufo occidentalis Camerano, 1879 Pine toad
Bufo periglenes Savage, 1967 Monte Verde golden toad
Bufo peripatetes Savage, 1972 Almirante Trail toad
Bufo perplexus Taylor, 1943 confusing toad
Bufo pisinnus Mendelson, Williams, Sheil & Mulcahy, 2005
Bufo porteri Mendelson, Williams, Sheil & Mulcahy, 2005
Bufo signifer Mendelson, Williams, Sheil & Mulcahy, 2005
Bufo spiculatus Mendelson, 1997
Bufo tacanensis Smith, 1952 Volcan Tacana coad
Bufo tutelarius Mendelson, 1997
Bufo valliceps Wiegmann, 1833

Subgenus Peltophryne

These 11 species are distributed in the Greater Antilles.

Binomial name and authorCommon name
Bufo cataulaciceps Schwartz, 1959 Schwartz's Caribbean toad
Bufo empusus (Cope, 1862) Cope's Caribbean toad, Cuban toad
Bufo fluviaticus Schwartz, 1972 Dominican Caribbean toad
Bufo fractus Schwartz, 1972
Bufo fustiger Schwartz, 1960
Bufo guentheri Cochran, 1941 Gunther's Caribbean toad
Bufo gundlachi Ruibal, 1959 Gundlach's Caribbean toad
Bufo lemur (Cope, 1869) Lowland Caribbean toad
Bufo longinasus Stejneger, 1905 Stejneger's Caribbean toad
Bufo peltocephalus Tschudi, 1838 Tschudi's Caribbean toad
Bufo taladai Schwartz, 1960 Cuban Caribbean toad

Subgenus Phrynoidis

These two species were redelimited and removed from the synonymy of Bufo by Frost et al., 2006. Others implied this taxon should be considered a subgenus of Bufo.

Binomial name and authorCommon name
Bufo asper Gravenhorst, 1829 Malayan giant toad
Bufo juxtasper Inger, 1964 Giant river toad, Borneo river toad

Subgenus Poyntonophrynus

Frost et al. moved these 10 species in 2006 to a separate genus.

Binomial name and authorCommon name
Bufo beiranus Loveridge, 1932 Beira's toad
Bufo damaranus Mertens, 1954
Bufo dombensis Bocage, 1895 Dombe toad
Bufo fenoulheti Hewitt & Methuen, 1912 Transvaal dwarf toad
Bufo grandisonae Poynton & Haacke, 1993 Mossamedes toad, Grandison's toad
Bufo hoeschi Ahl, 1934 Okahandja toad, Hoesch's toad
Bufo kavangensis Poynton & Broadley, 1988 Khwai River toad, Kavanga toad
Bufo lughensis Loveridge, 1932 Lugh toad
Bufo parkeri Loveridge, 1932 Parker's toad
Bufo vertebralis Smith, 1848 African dwarf toad, pygmy toad

Subgenus Epidalea

Frost et al. moved Bufo calamita Laurenti, 1768, Natterjack toad, in 2006 to a separate genus; it is found in Europe.

Subgenus Pseudepidalea

Frost et al. moved these 15 species in 2006 to a separate genus. It is the B. viridis group of previous authors.

Binomial name and authorCommon name
Bufo balearicus Boettger, 1880
Bufo baturae Stoeck, Schmid, Steinlein & Grosse, 1999 Batura toad
Bufo boulengeri Lataste, 1879
Bufo brongersmai Hoogmoed, 1972 Tiznit toad
Bufo latastii Boulenger, 1882 Ladakh toad, Lataste's toad
Bufo luristanicus Schmidt, 1952
Bufo oblongus Nikolskii, 1896 Danata toad, Middle Asiatic toad
Bufo pewzowi Bedriaga, 1898
Bufo pseudoraddei Mertens, 1971 Swat green toad
Bufo raddei Strauch, 1876 Tengger Desert toad, Radde's toad
Bufo siculus Stoeck, Sicilia, et al. 2008 Sicilian green toad
Bufo surdus Boulenger, 1891 Pakistan toad, Iranian toad
Bufo turanensis Hemmer, Schmidtler & Böhme, 1978
Bufo variabilis Pallas, 1769
Bufo viridis Laurenti, 1768 European green toad
Bufo zamdaensis Fei, Ye, and Huang in Fei, Ye, Huang & Chen, 1999
Bufo zugmayeri Eiselt & Schmidtler, 1973

Subgenus Rhaebo

These eight species were redelimited and removed from the synonymy of Bufo by Frost et al., 2006. Others implied this taxon should be considered a subgenus of Bufo.

Binomial name and authorCommon name
Bufo anderssoni Melin, 1941 Andersson's toad
Bufo blombergi Myers & Funkhouser, 1951 Colombian giant toad, Blomberg's toad
Bufo caeruleostictus Günther, 1859
Bufo glaberrimus Günther, 1869 Cundinamarca toad
Bufo guttatus Schneider, 1799 Spotted toad, smooth-sided toad
Bufo haematiticus Cope, 1862 Truando toad
Bufo hypomelas Boulenger, 1913 Choco toad
Bufo nasicus Werner, 1903 Werner's toad

Subgenus Vandijkophrynus

These five species are the former B. angusticeps group of Tandy and Keith, 1972, placed by Frost et al. in a separate genus.

Binomial name and authorCommon name
Bufo amatolicus Hewitt, 1925 Amatola toad
Bufo angusticeps Smith, 1848 Sand toad, Common Cape toad
Bufo gariepensis Smith, 1848 Karroo toad, Gariep toad
Bufo inyangae Poynton, 1963 Inyanga toad
Bufo robinsoni Branch & Braacke, 1996 Paradise toad


  1. Oroc, James. 2009. "Tryptamine Palace: 5-MeO-DMT and the Sonoran Desert Toad", Page 108 Park Street Press
  2. Conant, Roger. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin. Boston.
  3. http://www.erowid.org/animals/toads/
  4. Lee B Croft, Toadies: The Explanation of Toxicomania in American Society, Sintaksis, Moscow, Russia, 1992, ISBN 5-8342-0007-9
  5. http://www.erowid.org/animals/toads/toads_health.shtml
  6. Pauly et al., (2009). Herpetologica 65:115-128.


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