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Checklist of Amphibian Species and Identification Guide

Plains Spadefoot, Spea bombifrons


spadefoot spadefoot toad
The Plains Spadefoot is a small toad-like frog reaching lengths up to 2 inches. In appearance Spadefoots differ from true toads (genus Bufo) by having vertical cat-like pupils (round in Bufo), no (or indistinct) parotid glands and relatvively smooth skin. Like other Spadefoots, The Plains Spadefoot has a well developed, sharp-edged black tubercal or "spade" on the bottom the hind feet. The base color ranges from brown to gray, sometimes with a greenish overcast. There are four vague light stripes along the back and sides, with the middle two sometimes taking on the form of an hourglass. There are many small tubercles on the otherwise smooth skin. The ventral surface is white without markings, but the male's throat is blueish to grayish on the sides. There is also a bony raised boss (hump) between the eyes. They breed from May to Aug. in the center of its range, in the southern part of its range it breeds in July after summer rains. In the northern part, which extends into Canada, breeding takes place late May at the earliest. Egglaying usually occurs in flooded areas and temporary pools. The Plains Spadefoot is found in shortgrass prairie and desert grasslands east of the Rocky Mts. It prefers areas with loose soil where it can burrow with the aid of its "spades".
close-up of spade close-up of spade
belly of spadefoot Plains Spadefoots are found throughout the Great Plains east of the Rocky Mts. from Canada to Mexico.

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