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Western Toads are usually green or brown. They have a light stripe down the middle of the back and reddish-brown ‘warts’ on the back, sides and upper limbs. Newly hatched tadpoles and toadlets are black.

Length: Newly hatched tadpole, 1 cm (0.4 in); Adult (snout to vent), 5 to 12 cm (1.9 to 4.7 in)

Report Western Toad sightings to

In the NWT, Western Toads are found in the Liard River basin in the Dehcho region. A survey in 2019 found three new Western Toad breeding sites, beside the Muskeg River and about 30 km to the north beside the Liard River.

Range map information

Western Toads breed in a wide variety of wetlands such as shallow silty or sandy ponds, lakeshores, oxbow wetlands, gravel pits and roadside ditches. They often return to the same wetlands year after year. The toad’s summer ranges include shrubby-forested areas, wet shrublands, avalanche slopes and meadows. Western Toads over-winter by burrowing in the ground with snow cover deep enough (up to 1.3 m) to prevent freezing and moist enough to prevent their skin from drying. 

Western Toads are long-lived amphibians that can live for nine years. Females reach maturity at 4 to 6 years old and usually breed only once in their lifetime. These factors limit the Western Toad’s ability to recover from population declines.

Sometimes adults and young toads move together in large groups – this is called a ‘mass movement event.’

The population of Western Toads in the NWT is believed to be quite small. Western Toad numbers are declining in the southern part of their range in British Columbia and the United States. 

Potential threats in the Northwest Territories include: diseases (e.g. ranavirus and chytrid fungus), accidental mortality from traffic or ATVs, loss or modification of wetland habitats from human activities, environmental contaminants, and increasing UV-B radiation. Multiple threats, such as disease, habitat change and UV-B radiation, can have complex and interacting effects. 

Western Toads are vulnerable to getting run over and killed especially when crossing the Liard Highway near the Muskeg River bridge. Please slow down and watch out for toads!

In 2014, the NWT Species at Risk Committee assessed Western Toad as Threatened in the NWT because of its small range and concern about threats. In 2016, Western Toad was listed as Threatened in the NWT under the territorial Species at Risk (NWT) Act. An NWT Amphibian Management Plan can be found here. A progress report on implementation (2017-2021) is available here.

COSEWIC assessed Western Toad as Special Concern in Canada in 2002 and again in 2012. Western Toad was listed as Special Concern in Canada under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2005. A national management plan is available on the federal Species at Risk Public Registry.

A guide to amphibians and reptiles of the NWT is available at or by contacting

Progress Reports