Eastern Spadefoot

Eastern Spadefoot

Copyright John White

Genus Species: Scaphiopus holbrookii

Size: 1¾ - 2¼”

Location: Found along the Mississippi on the Alluvial Plain and possibly on Crowley’s Ridge.

Advertisement Call: A short nasal series of “waank” or “waagh” spaced 3 - 4 seconds apart.  Some describe it as a young crow calling.




Notice that I haven’t called this a frog or a toad - it has characteristics of both.  They are somewhat pudgy with small tubercles (warts) on their skin and they have parotoid glands.  The inner part of each back foot has a rough sickle shaped tubercle which creates a “spade” used for digging.  The spadefoot has vertical pupils and there are many frogs around the world with vertical pupils, but true toads have horizontal pupils!  So I’ll just call it a spadefoot.

Interesting Fact: Spadefoots are the only group in Arkansas with vertical eye pupils.

Spadefoots are explosive breeders - they usually finish their calling, mating, and egg laying in one night.  That special valentine night will occur after a rainstorm anytime between March and July.  Females lay from one to five thousand eggs in long strings that will hatch in a couple of days and mature to adult spadefoots in two to nine weeks depending on the availability of the water.  The more temporary the water, the faster the maturing time.

The Eastern Spadefoot is a member of the Pelobatidae (Spadefoot) family and is a Middle Frog (Mesobatrachia).  Spadefoots are the only Middle Frogs found in Arkansas.