Toads are typically nocturnal creatures, although they sometimes pop out of their burrows during the day. They don't come out year-round; they venture out during the warmer months of late spring, summer and early fall. They spend the colder winter months snuggled deep inside underground burrows, hibernating until the next warm night beckons. Juvenile toads and those that live in high elevations are more likely to come out during the day than adult toads or those in hot climates, whose skin might dry out quickly in the sun.
The first thing nocturnal toads do when night falls is wake up. They sleep during the heat of the day, buried underground or tucked under damp, rotting wood or large stones. Sunlight can dehydrate toads quickly, so venturing out during the night is safer. They return to their burrows to sleep before the sun rises -- though you might see some in daytime during breeding season.
Nighttime is ideal for hunting insects, many of which can't see a camouflaged toad as easily as he can see them. Toad eyesight is well-equipped for hunting in low light. They follow bugs that flock to light sources. That's why it's not uncommon to see toads hopping around your lit patio.
When the sun sinks behind the horizon, prepare for a cacophony of croaking to begin, especially if you live near a body of water. Nighttime is prime time to find a girlfriend, so male toads sit near water and croak as loudly as possible to attract female toads. Males climb onto the backs of willing females, kicking away other males. They hang on as the females make their way into the water to lay eggs.
Toads rely on the protection offered by darkness to lay their eggs, as they must be still and vulnerable to accomplish the task. Females lay the eggs in long strings in the water, and the males immediately fertilize the eggs. Laying the eggs at night gives the jellylike coating time to thicken, offering the eggs some protection from predators. They hatch in just a few days.