Their backs and sides are mostly brown, gray, olive green and rusty red in color with darkened raised spots, or warts, scattered around the back. They have a pale stripe that runs down the center of the back, and their underbelly is pale. Males are usually darker in overall color than the females.
Fowler's toads are a small toad species with adults ranging in size from 2 to 3.5 inches in length (5 to 9.5 centimeters).
This species occurs throughout most of the temperate eastern United States and parts of southeastern Canada. It does not live in the warmer areas of the southeast United States such as the Florida peninsula. Fowler's toads can be found in a range of habitats associated with flood plains, including wooded areas, river valleys, near streams and ponds, marshlands and in agricultural fields. Fowler's toads burrow into the soil or hide under rocks, plants or other cover when inactive, usually during daylight hours.
Adult Fowler's toads in the wild mainly eat insects and small terrestrial invertebrates such as snails and worms. They hunt at night, emerging from their daytime resting areas to search for food. As tadpoles, they eat algae and bacteria from rocks and aquatic plants.
At the Smithsonian's National Zoo, they are primarily fed crickets and earthworms.
Breeding usually occurs in the spring or early summer with the exact timing dependent on the range they are found. In mid-range locations, Fowler's toads emerge and begin calling in mid-April. Males call from shallow waters; breeding occurs in wetland areas. Females lay eggs in strings with clutches of up to 20,000 eggs. Eggs are often laid after heavy rains. Eggs and larvae develop in shallow water of marshes, rain pools, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, flooded areas and other bodies of water lacking a strong current. Tadpoles go through metamorphosis within two months of hatching. They reach breeding age when they are around 2 years old.
The toads are largely nocturnal and are most active on the spring and summer evenings.
The Fowler's toad has a typical life span of about 5 years.
Fowler's toads are listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN due to their large population and wide distribution. Threats to regional populations include habitat loss and the pollution of water ways, particularly due to agricultural chemicals. Fowler's toads are also threatened by invasive species and diseases, such as chytrid fungus.