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Spadefoots engage in pelvic or inguinal amplexus.  This is very different than toad amplexus which is pectoral or axillary.  Males and females are phenotypically different.  Breeding occurs in highly ephemeral pools.  Our work in South Hampton county resulted in most observations appearing in flooded agricultural fields, flooded roads, and ditches.  Forested area nearby was a common requirement.  In Danville we have found them in flooded forests and grass fields.  Virginia records indicate that breeding can occur anytime between March and August.  Heavy rains are needed to induce breeding.  Only a half dozen reports of choruses have been reported since 1957.  Age of first reproduction is 1-2 years.  Since spadefoots breed at temporary sites they utilize loud advertisement calls which carry over many kilometers. The male's mating call is a short, explosive, low-pitched "wank". The call is repeated approximately every 2 seconds. 

Breeding bouts are explosive and do not last usually more than 1 day.  In Danville small numbers of amplexed pairs were found in a flooded pool the day after a breeding bout.  Two days later there were no frogs found in the pond.

A gravid female.


Our observations of breeding areas include open areas, agricultural fields, ditches with adjacent forests, and flooded forests. Pool as it is drying up.  It is tempting for managers of these public areas to fill in these “mosquito breeding pools”.  The public needs to be educated about the unique species that must have these pools in order to survive.


Spadefoot females can lay between 2,000 – 5,500 eggs. The eggs are 1-2 mm in diameter.  Eggs are attached to underwater objects in small clusters.
Eastern spadefoot tadpoles can be identified because spadefoots are the only species having a medial anus and a mouth that is not laterally infolded. The appearance of the tadpoles are flattened (meaning that the posterior end is wider than the anterior), bronze in color, and can reach a length of 28-mm (Dundee & Rossman, 1989).


Spadefoot tadpoles will eat animal matter, algae, and each other.  I noticed that if a tadpole died during the night it would be partially eaten by the morning.  Tadpoles may school or can sometimes be seen individually.  Schooling behavior may provide for some protection from predation.


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