Field Guide to Maryland's Frogs and Toads (Order Anura)

Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii)

Eastern Spade Foot frog 
Former Name:
Eastern Spadefoot Toad

  • 1¾ - 2¼ inches
  • Record - 2⅞ inches.

  • A relatively smooth-skinned toad without parotoid glands
  • Has grayish brown back with two yellowish lines running from behind eyes down the back in a “lyre-shaped” pattern.
  • Small reddish orange spots may also be present.
  • Key diagnostic feature is the dark brown, elongated, sickle-shaped spade on the bottom of each hindfoot.
  • It also has vertically elliptical pupils.

  • Areas of sandy, loose soil in or adjacent to forests.
  • Typically observed during breeding, in shallow depressions or vernal wetlands in open areas (pastures, fields) adjacent to woods.
  • Primarily found on Coastal Plain.

Photo of Habitat for Eastern Spadefoot courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
Photo of Habitat for Eastern Spadefoot
courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers

How to Find:
  • Listen for their distinctive explosive grunt call “geeoo”, likened to the sound of young crows, on nights during or following torrential rains, with air temperatures 50o F.
  • They are explosive breeders, calling only 2-5 nights per year at any one site.
  • Breeding can occur from March-September, but usually from late March to mid-May.
  • May also be found crossing roads on warm rainy nights.

Distribution in Maryland:
Eastern spadefoots can be found throughout the piedmont and coastal plain sections of Maryland.
Maryland Distribution Map for Eastern Spadefoot
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