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toad, name applied to certain members of the amphibian order Anura, which also includes the frog. Although there is no clear-cut distinction between toads and frogs, the name toad commonly refers to those species that have relatively short legs, stout bodies, and thick skins, and are less aquatic as adults than the long-legged, slender-bodied frogs.

Sometimes the term toad is restricted to the so-called true toads, members of the family Bufonidae. These are characterized by warty skins and prominent parotid glands behind the eyes and as a group are the most terrestrial of the order. In most the feet are only slightly webbed. They range in length from about 1 to 7 in. (2.5–18 cm). Most species belong to the genus Bufo; members of these species spend much of the time on land, generally near water. They generally live in cool, moist places and absorb moisture through the skin. The white fluid that they exude through the skin, as well as from the parotid glands, is very poisonous and causes intense burning if it comes in contact with the eyes or mouth; however, contrary to an old belief, it does not cause warts. Toads, like frogs, move on land by jumping and feed on insects and grubs. Also like frogs, they usually lay their eggs in water in strands of jelly. Fertilization is external. The egg hatches into a tadpole, a gilled, aquatic, larval toad that undergoes metamorphosis into the adult.

There are about a dozen Bufo species in the United States, among them the common American toad (Bufo americanus), Fowlers toad (B. fowleri), of the E United States, and the red-spotted toad (B. punctatus), of the Southwest. The cane, marine, or giant toad (B. marinus), a large toad native to Central and N South America, was widely introduced in warm regions (Caribbean, Pacific, Australia, and Florida) to control agricultural pests but is now regarded as an invasive species; they compete with and prey on native species, and their toxic secretions can kill predators.

The spadefoot toads, burrowing toads of the family Pelobatidae, are represented in the United States by several species of the genus Scaphiopus. Toads are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Amphibia, order Anura.

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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Many a Witch of old was accused of having a "familiar"—an imp of the devil—to do her bidding, and this was frequently described by her accusers as being in the shape of a toad. One reason behind this thought was that most Wise Ones would indeed keep a toad in their garden to take care of the insects that attacked the flowers and plants. Many of the aromatic plants and herbs attracted all forms of insect life. A toad was therefore a common possession.

In 1566 Mother Waterhouse, one of the Chelmsford witches, purportedly changed her white-spotted cat into a toad. In 1579, at Windsor, Mother Dutton of Cleworth Parish was accused of keeping a spirit "in the likeness of a toad" and feeding it while it was "lying in a border of green herbs" in her garden. Three years later, at St. Osyth in Essex, eight-year-old Thomas Rabbet claimed that his mother, Ursley Kemp, had several spirits, one of which was "black like a toad." That same year, Alice Hunt, also of St. Osyth, confessed to having two spirits like toads, "the one called Tom and the other Robbyn." In 1599 Olive Barthram, executed at Bury St. Edmunds for "devilish and wicked witcheries practiced upon Joan Jorden," was supposed to have sent three toads to trouble her victim in her bed. In 1665, at the trial of the Bury St. Edmund witches, a Dr. Jacob gave evidence that he had found a toad in the bedding of one of the children involved in accusing the two women in the case. The doctor stated that he had thrown the toad into a fire and as a result one of the accused, Amy Duny, developed burns on her arms. Similarly, in the Maldon case of 1579, a toad was burned and Mary Smith (executed in 1616) also suffered appropriate burns.

It was generally believed that a jewel could be found buried in a toad's head. Such a stone had great magical properties and was highly sought. Any stone that had a color reminiscent of a toad, or was in the shape of a toad, came to be called a "toad stone" and might be set into a ring or pendant, to be worn as a protective talisman.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(pop culture)
One of Magneto's original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, the Toad hopped into the Marvel Universe in X-Men vol. 1 #4 (1964). An outcast because of his gargoyle-like looks, mutant Mortimer Toynbee welcomes Magneto's vision of a society ruled by mutants and becomes his boot-licking pawn. The Toad is also obsessed with the Brotherhood's Scarlet Witch, a stalker-worthy fixation he would nurture for years. The Toad was pathetically deferential to the harsh Magneto, even when they were both held captive on another planet by the alien known as the Stranger. Finally buckling under the weight of his master's tyranny, the Toad turned against Magneto and even tried to take his life. The Toad studied and stole advanced technology during a return trip to the Stranger's planet, then came home to Earth to strike against his former enemies, calling himself “the Terrible Toad King” on a short-lived, unsuccessful path of vengeance. The Toad considered becoming a superhero but opted to continue his villainy, confidently stretching his legs by forming his own Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. He eventually returned to his familiar turf of subservience to other supervillains. The Toad also exists in Marvel's reinvented “Ultimate” Universe in the series Ultimate X-Men (2001–present). The Toad's often cloying manner, repellent appearance, and bizarre superpowers are offensive to both “friend” (of whom he has few) and foe. His superhumanly strong legs allow him to leap tremendous distances and lift several tons, and, like his namesake, he frequently crouches. After a time-traveling sojourn on the sentient spaceship Prosh, the Toad gained the abilities to lash his long, prehensile tongue as a weapon and exude from his pores paralysis- inducing mucus; these freakish traits, and his foul body odor, often keep others at arm's length. Actor Ray Park, under green, wart-encrusted makeup, popularized the Toad in the live-action movie X-Men (2000), but that wasn't the mutant's first screen appearance. He and the Brotherhood were seen in an episode of television's animated Spider- Man and His Amazing Friends (1981–1986). The cartoon X-Men: Evolution (2000–2003) also utilized the Toad, renamed from Toynbee to Todd Tolensky. Toy Biz has produced Toad action figures based upon the comics, movie, and Evolution interpretations. A different supervillain calling himself the Toad, a counterfeiter wearing a frog-head mask, briefly fought the Archie Comics superhero the Black Hood in the mid-1960s. Other frog-like supervillains include the Hulk's enemies the Toad Men and Daredevil's jumping foe the Leap-Frog.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(vertebrate zoology)
Any of several species of the amphibian order Anura, especially in the family Bufonidae; glandular structures in the skin secrete acrid, irritating substances of varying toxicity.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. any anuran amphibian of the class Bufonidae, such as Bufo bufo (common toad) of Europe. They are similar to frogs but are more terrestrial, having a drier warty skin
2. any of various similar amphibians of different families
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Hilda's Nethercraigs Road toad service was now Paisley's first official toad crossing point.
However, it was the soap hidden in their mouths that caused the frothy saliva, not the toad. There then followed a grisly feigned act of acute pain as if the toadeater was about to die.
According to IRRI, the cane toad is a non-native species that was introduced in the Philippines in the 1930s to control pests in sugarcane.
In any event, I hope you come across a toad this spring.
Attempting to explain why the toads were riding the python, conservation biologist Jodi Rowley said that the amphibians were not only trying to snake a ride, but trying to mate with the reptile.
Road building and development have created many obstacles for toads travelling to their breeding sites, as well as the loss of these ponds as a result of house building and other developments.
Amebiasis in a neotropical toad. J Am Vet Med Assoc.
It turned out to be a toad, encased in solid soil about a foot from the top of the pot.
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One netizen thinks the toad might be the start of a zombie apocalypse.