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Spadefoot Toads: Pelobatidae - Physical Characteristics

Animal Life ResourceAmphibiansSpadefoot Toads: Pelobatidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Plains Spadefoot Toad (spea Bombifrons): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, SPADEFOOT TOADS AND PEOPLE


The spadefoot toads are named for the small scoops, or spades, on the bottoms of their hind feet. They use their spades, which are made of the same material as fingernails, to move away the dirt as they burrow into the soil. The spadefoot toad is actually not a true toad. All true toads are grouped into the family called Bufonidae. Spadefoot toads do look a bit like true toads, because they have round, plump bodies, but they do not have very warty skin. Their skin is actually quite smooth and moist, although tiny lumps are sometimes noticeable on their backs. These small lumps may be tipped in red. In addition, spadefoot toads also have teeth on the upper jaw. True toads do not.

Many of the species in this family have brown to gray backs, sometimes with faint stripes or spots, and light-colored bellies. Their eyes have vertical, catlike pupils. Some, like the Great Basin spadefoot, have a large lump between the eyes. Depending on the species, adults may grow to 2 to 3.2 inches (5.1 to 8.1 centimeters) from the tip of the snout to the end of the rump.

Their eggs are tiny and typically dark brown. The tadpoles are usually tan to brown in color. Some have orange speckles and see-through tails.

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