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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Reptiles and Amphibians of North Dakota

Plains Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus bombifrons)

species distribution map JPG -- Species Photo

The plains spadefoot toad is the most easily recognized toad in North Dakota. Its skin is smooth like that of a frog, and it has a distinct vertical pupil like that of a cat. Its color varies from a light cream, to gray or brown.

Spadefoot toads inhabit the dry grasslands of western North Dakota which have sandy or loose soil. Their back feet have a digging spur (spade) which they use to burrow into the soil. They may burrow up to two feet underground until they hit a layer of moist soil.

Spadefoots are known as explosive breeders. During the warm summer months they emerge in the evening after a heavy rain to quickly breed in shallow pools. By morning the adults are back underground awaiting the next heavy rain.

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