Ohio Frog and Toad Calling Survey

Eastern Spadefoot

(Scaphiopus holbrookii)

Distribution of the Eastern Spadefoot in Ohio.

An pair of Eastern Spadefoots in amplexus.

The Eastern Spadefoot is the only Ohio frog or toad that is listed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as an endangered species. The Spadefoot is only known from some of Ohio’s larger river valleys including the Ohio, Muskingum, Scioto and Hocking. Sandy soils are required for this burrowing species. Anyone finding or knowing about a population of Eastern Spadefoots in Ohio should contact the Ohio frog and toad survey at anura@fuse.net or the Ohio Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Management and Research Group at (614) 265-6300
Species Description: Length - 4.4 to 5.7 cm (1 3/4 to 2 1/4 inches).  The back is usually brown with two yellow lines forming an hourglass pattern.  Skin is relatively smooth skin but there are some small warts and a pair of indistinct, round parotoid glands.  A single, hard, black, sickle-shaped spade is found on the bottom of each hind foot.  Unlike any other Ohio frog, this species’ pupils are vertically elliptical.
Habitat:  In Ohio, this species is limited to soft, sandy soils in riverine flood plains.  This is a burrowing species that appears at the surface on warm humid nights from April through October. 
Reproductive Activity: The male’s advertisement call is a harsh “whar.”  Chorusing only occurs after torrential rainstorms from April to August. Eggs hatch in two to three days.  Metamorphosis occurs from two to six weeks after hatching.  Populations may go several years without breeding if substantial rains do not occur during the breeding season.
Ohio Distribution: Isolated to the flood plains of the Ohio, Hocking, Muskingum, and Scioto Rivers.  A population from Pike County is not associated with a large river floodplain.
Status: Endangered Species in Ohio.  Among the seven known Ohio populations, only the Morgan County population is extant.  All others are in jeopardy or have been destroyed by development.  Additional populations probably do exist, but this species’ burrowing habits, limited activity, and restricted habitat make them difficult to find.  The Pike County population is the only one reported on protected land. 

Last modified:
Saturday, March 26, 2005

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