Photograph of a Newborn Spadefoot Toad

This photograph of a newly developed spadefoot was taken by Jennifer Williams. The photo shows its size relative to a dime.

Desert Duets: Spadefoot Babies Web Page

Female spadefoots lay their eggs in summer desert rain pools. The eggs hatch within 36 hours. The female may lay as many as 3,000 eggs, but many die because rain puddles and pools can dry up before the eggs hatch or tadpoles develop. Some of the tadpoles are smaller vegetarians and some are larger with powerful jaw muscles. If their food supply is low, the larger tadpoles will eat the smaller ones.

Within ten days to two weeks, the tadpoles develop legs and can live outside of water if necessary. When they can hop, they leave their puddles to feast on nocturnal insects before they burrow underground again.

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Launched: February 2008
Updated: 10 September 2012