City Cast

How These Houston Toads Became Endangered

Brooke Lewis
Posted on August 15
A yellow and brown Houston toad.

The Houston Zoo has become a safe haven for Houston Toads. (Houston Zoo/Facebook)

Houston toads are light brown, gray, or a purplish color and about two to three-and-a-half inches long. Despite sharing a name with our great city, they haven’t been spotted in Houston wildlife since 1975. The toads went almost completely extinct because of droughts, urbanization, and wildfires, but efforts by the Houston Zoo have kept them around. They were the first amphibians to be protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1970.

These toads thrive in very specific habitats. They enjoy piney loblolly forests with a canopy and sandy-loamy soil. Houston toads are found throughout nine counties of Texas, with the majority living in Bastrop. The Houston Zoo has a 1,200 square foot toad facility, where they are working to help save Houston toads from extinction. About 600 Houston toads, believed to be the majority of the remaining population, live at the zoo. Since 2013, the zoo releases hundreds of thousands of eggs every year into the wild to help breed new toads and recover the wildlife population.

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