Recognized Subspecies in VA: None
Size: 1.75 - 2.25 inches
Range: All of the non mountainous regions, and a bit of the Blue Ridge
Status: Tier IV
Hidden until heavy, rains drive them out to breed, the Eastern Spadefoot is a rarely seen and unique frog found across much of Virginia. They gather in massive congregations to lay eggs in season pools in the fields they call home. The Spadefoots prefer sandy soil, where they can dig their burrows backward, with their black, spade-like spines on their heels. Our True Toads have a similar protrusion on their heel and similar looks, but this is just convergent evolution, and the two families are not closely related.
Spadefoots are chunky frogs, with giant eyes that have very unique vertical pupils, that some times look like cross-hairs more than cat eyes. They are dark gray to black, often with yellow or brown stripes down the body, often making a unique spearhead shape on the back. Their red warts pop against their dark base. Tadpoles are very spherical, with clear bellies, while metamorphs are dark, with those distinct eyes and dorsal pattern.
Similar Species: The True Toads are often mistaken for these species, but their patterns and eyes are very different.
Calls sound like moans.
Maps and External Sources
A prominent VHS member and biologist Jason Gibson has been studying this species in Virginia and has a forum to report sighting to. If you would like to submit a sighting, you can access it from the "Report Spadefoots" button below.
Herping Virginia encourages all naturalists to practice ethical, safe, and sustainable herping. The use of proper herping methods and techniques is beneficial to both wildlife and herpers. Visit the links below for more information.