Frog of the Week

Western Spadefoot Toad (Spea hammondii)

Western Spadefoot Toad (Spea hammondii)
photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: Western Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Spea hammondii
Family: Scaphiopodidae – Spadefoot Toad family
Location: Mexico and the United States
US Location: California
Size: 1.5 – 2.5 inches (38.1 – 65 mm)

The Western Spadefoot Toad is fossorial species of toad, which means they spend most of their time burrowed underground. They are able to dig well due to the spades on their rear feet, which is how they got their name. The toads rarely come to the surface, mostly after rains. 

The Western Spadefoot ToadĀ breeds following the rains during between October and May. The males will gather in pools filled with the water from the rain and will start to call. The females of the species will arrive and pair up with the males. The male will grasps the female from behind, called amplexus. The female will lay her eggs and the male will then fertilize them. The female toads can lay over 500 eggs at a time. The eggs usually take between 3 and 4 days to hatch into tadpoles but can hatch in as little as a day. Neither of the parents will perform any parental care for the offspring. The tadpoles take between 4 to 11 weeks to complete their metamorphosis.

Western Spadefoot Toad (Spea hammondii)
photo by William Flaxington

The Western Spadefoot Toad is sadly listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Development of their habitat is the primary reason for the listing. Other threats include non-native species and logging. It is listed as a species of special concern by the state of California. The toad has also been suggested to be added to the Endangered Species list.

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