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Desert (Couch's) Spadefoot (Scaphiopus couchi)
3". Color ranges from yellowish, to olive, to greenish with variable
blotches, lines, or spots. As in all spadefoots, their pupils are vertical
(versus horizontal in other frogs/toads), and each hindfoot has a hardened,
dark-colored ridge ("spade") that aids in burrowing. Males call
sounds like the bleating of sheep.
NATURAL HISTORY: The desert spadefoot is extremely well-adapted to the desert. All they need is sandy soils for burrowing, temporary pools for reproducing, and one or two stomach-fulls of food per year to survive. They spend most of the year buryed underground. Cued by the sound of rain and/or thunder during a summer rainstorm, the spadefoots emerge, and find a pool filled by the rain. The males call to attact mates and the eggs are laid and fertilized (up to 3000/female). Then the race against time begins -- the eggs must hatch and the tadpoles metamorphose before the rain-filled pool is drys out. In as little as 15 hours, the eggs hatch, and the tadpoles begin feeding as fast as they can (sometimes feeding on each other) to grow as quickly as possible. The lucky few metamorphose to "spadefootlets" (in only two weeks!), and now must continue to eat and grow before burying themselves until next year's monsoons return.