Native Frogs to USA- North American Spadefoot Toads (Part 5)

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Today is the fifth post in the series of frogs native to the US. Part 1 was on American Toads!  Check it out here!  Part 2 was on Cricket Frogs.  Check it out here! Part 3 was on Tailed Frogs.  Check it out here! Part 4 was on the Red-Legged Frogs.  Check it out here!

Today’s post is on the North American Spadefoot Toads!  Spadefoot toads are not true toads and therefore many refer to them as just spadefoots.  At the base of each hind foot is a dark, sickle shaped protein growth in a spade shape, hence the name spade foot.

Scaphiopus CouchiiCouch’s spadefoot


Image from Wikimedia Commons


Description-  These Couch’s Spadefoots are a smooth-skinned, yellowish or olive coloring with irregular blotches or spots of black, brown or dark green.  The belly is white without markings.


Image from ICUN Redlist

These spadefoots do extremely well in dry conditions in areas with sandy, well drained soils.  They can also be found in short grass prairies and grasslands.  The couch’s spadefoot sounds like the bleating of sheep or goats.  One female may lay as many as 3000 eggs!  These are laid in shallow pools of water so the tadpoles must hatch quickly before the pool dries up in the sun.  The tadpoles hatch in 15 hours and metamorphose around 2 weeks, but could in as little as 9 days.

The couch’s spadefoot can quickly bury themselves in loose, sandy soil to avoid heat and juveniles bury under the soil to prey upon beetles, spiders & ants.  This spadefoot has a skin secretion that may cause allergic reactions in some humans.  (1) (2)

Scaphiopus Holbrookii -Eastern spadefoot


Image from Wikipedia Commons


Description-  The Eastern Spadefoot has smoother and more moist sink than most toads and is speckled with very tiny warts.  This species varies in color from tan or yellowish to dark brown without bold spots like other southern toads.  They usually have 2 vertical light lines running from the back of their eyes down their dorsum creating a hourglass shape.  The lines are usually more visable in males.

Image from ICUN Redlist

The Eastern Spadefoot prefers dry habitats with sandy soil, but can be found in almost any habitat.  Their ability to remain buried for long periods of time allows them to live in suburban and agricultural areas.  These spadefoots spend almost all of their time buried under ground, with the exception of breeding time.

Something odd about these guys is that some people believe that the Eastern spadefoot smells like peanut butter. (1) (2) (3

Scaphiopus Hurterii -Hurter’s spadefoot


Image from Wikipedia Commons


Description-  The Hurter’s spadefoot used to be regarded as a subspecies of the Eastern Spadefoot, but has recently been given its own species status in honor of the swiss-american and curator of the St. Louis Academy of Sciences, Julius Hurter.

The Hurter’s Spadefoot can be found in areas with sandy, gravelly or soft light soils in a variety of terrain.   They have a very explosive call that can almost lift them out of the water.  Here is a video of one calling in Texas:  Hurter’s Spadefoot Calling (1) (2) (3)

Have you seen any of these spadefoot’s where you live?  Leave a comment & where you live if you have!


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