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eastern spadefoot

(Scaphiopus holbrookii)


This is the only spadefoot east of the Mississippi River. Spadefoots have a sharp, black spade on each hind foot for burrowing into sand or loose soil. They also have inconspicuous paratoid glands (the bumps on the top of a toad’s head), few warts, and vertically elliptical pupils. The eastern spadefoot measures 1 3/4 – 2 1/4 in. (4.4 – 5.7 cm.). It is usually brown, sometimes yellowish or quite dark, often mottled, with two light, yellowish, dorsal stripes extending from the eye down the back. The throat and breast are white and the belly is tinged with gray. The eyes are large and protruberant. This species emerges from its burrow only after heavy rain or during wet periods in warmer months. The eggs are laid on the bottom of a pond in irregular bands 25-55 mm long. The eggs are 1-2 mm in diameter and hatching occurs in 1 1/2-2 days. Transformation occurs from 2-8 weeks depending on the temperature and water level.


The Cumberland County record is the only Piedmont record. This species is usually found in areas characterized by loose sandy soils suitable for burrowing.


Cannabalism is known to occur in tadpoles.