Eastern Spadefoot

Here’s an eastern spadefoot, a medium-sized frog that is relatively common but rarely seen unless you happen to be trapping amphibians around an ephemeral pond. They’re burrowers, so they need loose, sandy soil that’s easy to dig into. They dig with their hind feet, backwards.

The adults are rarely seen in daylight. They usually only come out of their burrows at night to catch bugs, earthworms, and slugs. But you can sometimes find hundreds of tiny recently-metamorphosed spadefoots leaving a pond during the day.

The easiest way to tell them from true toads (the Bufo genus — around here that would be the Fowler’s toad and the American toad) is their eyes — their pupils are vertical instead of round. They also have two curved yellow streaks on their backs.

Also, they try to curl up into a ball when threatened. I’m not sure what threat would be deterred by this — definitely not a human — but it is adorable.

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Bethany Harvey

You can find my games at https://bethanyharvey.itch.io, and I occasionally blog about under-appreciated wildlife at OverlookedNature.com.

2 thoughts on “Eastern Spadefoot”

    1. Oh, that makes perfect sense! You wouldn’t want to get sand in those eyes, and nothing would be able to sneak up on you if you’re facing out of your burrow!

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