Usually greenish, greenish-yellow, or brownish yellow with blotches of
dark spots. Like all members of the family Pelobatidae, S. couchii has
a black, keratinized spade on its hind feet. This species can be distinguished by its
sickle-shaped spade (Stebbins 1985)
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Mexico, United States
U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
Occurs from southwest Oklahoma, central New Mexico, and south-central Arizona to
the tip of Baja California, Nayarit and south San Luis Potosi; southeast
California to central Texas. Some isolated populations are in the vicinity of
Petrified Forest National Monument and southeast of La Junta, Otero Co.,
Colorado. Also, some scattered populations in California between Amos and
Ogilby on eastern side of Algodones Dunes; Purgatory and Buzzard’s Peak Washes,
Scaphiopus couchii is often found in shortgrass plains,
mesquite savannah, creosote bush desert, thornforest and tropical deciduous
forest (west Mexico) and other areas of low rainfall. Information from Stebbins (1985)
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Scaphiopus couchii burrow backwards into the ground to avoid the heat and desiccation common to
desert habitats. Toadlets can often remain active longer than adults which hibernate
for 9-10 months out of the year about 1 m below the surface. Adults emerge after
annual rains arrive, usually in May, and stay active until September. They
breed in ephemeral ponds and feed during this terrestrial period, usually on
desert invertebrates for no more than 20 nights. It is not uncommon for
this species to exhibit phenotypic plasticity for age at metamorphosis and even
See another account at californiaherps.com.
Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
Tinsley, R. C. (1995). ''Parasitic disease in amphibians.'' Parasitology, 111(supplement), 25.
Originally submitted by: Andrea Swei (first posted 1999-02-23)
Edited by: Vance T. Vredenburg (2008-02-03)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2008 Scaphiopus couchii: Couch's Spadefoot <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/5274> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 28, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 28 Sep 2023.
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