Rhinophrynus dorsalisBurrowing Toad(Also: Mexican Burrowing Toad)

Geographic Range

In the lowlands from Texas to Yucatan and Honduras, west coast from the Rio Balsas, Mexico, to Costa Rica. Barely enters the United States.


Terrestrial and nocturnal. Remain in fairly small areas.

Physical Description

Identification: 2 to 2 3/4 inches (record, 3 1/2 in.). The rotund body and broad reddish/orange middorsal stripe are sufficient for identifying this toad. Horny, shovel-like appendages on feet



Eggs are laid in water. Has its own mating call. Mate more than once and during any month. Breed in water, but may migrate one mile to a more suitable breeding pond. Eggs are laid in two jelly tubes. Tadpoles hatch in a few days and transform into adults in one to three months.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)


Voice: a loud, low-pitched wh-o-o-o-a, much like a farmer commanding his mule to stop. Remain in burrows during winter and drought. When this amphibian is calling or alarmed, the body is so inflated with air that it resembles a miniature, somewhat flattened balloon with a small, triangular snout protruding from one side. Specimens are virtually never seen until heavy rains stimulate them to leave their burrows to form breeding choruses.

Food Habits

Eats insects, especially termites (which it licks up with its tongue), and other invertebrates.

Conservation Status

It looks somewhat like a narrow-mouthed toad of giant size. This species is the only living representative of its family, the Rhinophrynidae.


Brenda Beaudry (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.


Encyclopedia Britannica. 1994. Volume 11.

Conant, Roger. Reptiles and Amphibians, Peterson Field Guides. 1975.