Frog of the Week

Mexican Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata)

Mexican Spadefoot Toad
photo by Sarah Beckwith

Common Name: Mexican Spadefoot Toad, New Mexican Spadefoot Toad, Southern Spadefoot Toad, and Desert Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Spea multiplicata
Family: Scaphiopodidae – American Spadefoot Toad family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah
Size: 2.5 inches (6.35 cm)

The Mexican Spadefoot Toad lives in the southwestern United States and most of central Mexico. They live in a wide range of habitats from desert grassland, sagebrush, and woodlands. Like all spadefoot toads, they have keratinized spade-like projections on their hind legs. They use these spades to burrow into the ground. The toad spends most of the day underground, coming up at night to hunt and look for mates. Their diet consist mostly of arthropods and insects.

For the breeding season, it usually takes place after heavy rains. The rain fills up pools and ponds that are used for breeding. These pools and ponds only last a few weeks tops. The whole breeding season only last one or two days. Therefore, the eggs hatch in a few days and it only takes the tadpoles a couple weeks to undergo metamorphosis.

The males call out from the shallows of water bodies to attract the female toads. Once the female arrives, the male grasps her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. The female lays around a thousand eggs at a time. Neither parent provides any parental care for their offspring.

Mexican Spadefoot Toad
photo by Adam G Clause

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Mexican Spadefoot Toad as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a wide distribution and are thought to be abundant throughout their range. Also, the toads are highly adaptable to urbanization of their habitat.

2 thoughts on “Mexican Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata)”

Leave a Reply