Saturday, December 2, 2023


Nature: Tiny toad has hardened toe, can burrow 15 feet deep

Hurricane Hilary and the regular monsoons brought a lot of moisture recently to remote Great Basin National Park in Nevada. The Great Basin Spadefoot Toads (Spea intermontana) appeared with the moisture. The tiny toad has evolved to survive in one of the hardest places for a toad to live, the cold deserts of the Great Basin in the American and Canadian West.

To do this, it has evolved a hardened toe that it uses to dig a burrow where it can ride out cold and dry times. The toads love to dig. Their deepest burrow recorded was more than 15 feet! When rain comes, the toads rise to the surface to feed and breed. Sometimes they will end up on roads, where they can end up as road kill.

The Great Basin Spadefoot occupies the inter-mountain region between the Rocky Mountains and Coastal Ranges from south-central British Columbia south to Arizona and Colorado. In Canada, the species is restricted to the arid and semi-arid zones of south-central British Columbia and occurs in the Okanagan Valley and in the Similkameen and Kettle-Granby river valleys in the south and in the Thompson and Nicola river valleys and the South Cariboo region in the north.

The toads are olive green with dark green spots. Some spots have an orange center. The toad’s eyes have a large round black pupil surrounded by a skinny light brown iris. The toad in the photo is sitting on a blacktop road with small gravel-sized pebbles. Photo Credit: J. Wurtz

SOURCE: Great Basin National Park Facebook page and other sources.


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