Puerto Rican crested toad
At the Detroit Zoo
The Puerto Rican crested toad can be seen at the award-winning National Amphibian Conservation Center – a leader in amphibian conservation and research – which houses a spectacular diversity of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians. The Detroit Zoological Society has been working to preserve this critically endangered species since 1995 through a cooperative breeding program. In May 2015, a record-breaking 22,571 tadpoles were sent to Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico for release into the wild while 20 remained at the Zoo for future breeding efforts. In 2017, 5,635 tadpoles were sent to Puerto Rico’s El Tallonal biological reserve for release into the wild after another successful breeding season.
This nocturnal amphibian is generally well-hidden, but its large eyeballs and pointy hooked nose can be seen peering out from under its limestone home. It can almost completely flatten its body to fit into tiny crevices in its habitat.
The female Puerto Rican crested toad is typically a dull brown color, though some have pinkish-colored sides. The male tends to be olive green and gold, though some have yellow-colored sides. Both sexes have marbled, golden eyes and textured, pebbled skin, but the female’s is much rougher. Another difference between the male and female is that she has a high crest above her eyes while the male has pads on his thumbs.
Tiny radio transmitter "backpacks" have been placed on some of these toads by researchers to track their movements.
The Puerto Rican crested toad was the first amphibian involved in a Species Survival Plan – a comprehensive management plan through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums that works to ensure the sustainability of healthy, genetically diverse and demographically varied captive animal populations.
It only takes 18 days for an egg to grow into a toadlet.