These toads can only be found in California. Populations can be found in the high elevations of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Their range includes the Blue Lakes region of Ebbets Pass to Kaiser Pass near Evolution Lake in the Darwin Canyon.
They thrive in wet mountain meadows mostly near pine forests. Yosemite toads are found near permanent bodies of water, although they spend most of their time terrestrially. They live in high elevations (between 1950-3450 meters). These amphibians dig under the soil and seek shelter beneath rocks, fallen logs and during the night, in abandoned rodent holes. The breeding season begins in May because melted ice causes shallow pools. Females lay eggs in a cluster and may lay between 1300-2000 eggs. Yosemite toad larvae feed on plankton and detritus while the adults eat many types of insects like weevils, beetles, millipedes, and small arachnids like spiders.
The Yosemite toads are moderate-sized, thickset toads with an average snout-to-vent length between 1.8-3.0 inches (although females are usually larger). Yosemite toads show the highest degree of sexually dichromatism, the difference in coloration, pattern, and size between the sexes is strong. The males exhibit brighter colors and are olive-green to yellow-green, and they sport small dark flecks. The females have a brown or gray coloration with bigger dark spots. Both sexes have large, smooth warts and smooth skin between these warts. The eyes have a dark brown iris with gold-colored iridophores. The juveniles have a mid-dorsal stripe that disappears as they age. The juvenile males lose their black blotches as they develop as well. But in the female, the blotches expand and reticulate.
Learn more with Schechter Natural History's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians