1 minute read

Spadefoot Toads: Pelobatidae

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Plains Spadefoot Toad (spea Bombifrons): Species AccountGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, SPADEFOOT TOADS AND PEOPLE


Four species live from Europe and western Asia to northwestern Africa. The remaining seven are North American species, found from southern Mexico through the United States and to southern Canada.

Spadefoot toads are burrowing frogs that live in areas with loose, often sandy soil and usually dry weather. Some, like the Plains spadefoot toad, can live in almost desert-like conditions. They come above ground, usually at night following a heavy rain or when the air is humid, to find food. Spring rains also bring the frogs onto land for mating. Those that live in the driest of places, however, may stay underground for all but two weeks of the year.

Unlike most other frog species, the tadpoles of spadefoot toads are not just vegetarians. They will suck in water and sift out bits of plants, as some other species of tadpoles do, but they will search the water to catch and eat insects and other invertebrates (in-VER-teh-brehts), which are animals without backbones. Once they become frogs, they switch to an all-meat diet and eat snails, spiders, earthworms, and various insects, including beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars.

People may hear these frogs occasionally during their mating season, but they rarely see the animals in the wild. Spadefoot toads are not especially popular in the pet trade, although some people do keep them in their homes. Nonetheless, at least one species has received attention. In 2003, the state government of New Mexico named the New Mexico Spadefoot Toad, a red and brown speckled species, as its official state amphibian.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceAmphibians