AmphibiaWeb - Scaphiopus couchii


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Scaphiopus couchii Baird, 1854
Couch's Spadefoot, Couch's Spadefoot Toad
family: Scaphiopodidae
genus: Scaphiopus
Scaphiopus couchii
© 2003 Brad Moon (1 of 72)

sound file   hear call (86.4K RM file)
sound file   hear call (3932.6K WAV file)
sound file   hear call (205.7K WMA file)
sound file   hear call (190.7K WMA file)

[call details here]

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
NatureServe Use NatureServe Explorer to see status.
National Status None
Regional Status None
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


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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

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View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
amphibiandisease logo View Bd and Bsal data (10 records).
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, Imperial Co.

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 cannibalistic morphs.


See another account at


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 <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 20, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 20 Jul 2024.

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