Spea multiplicata
Spea Multiplicata

The New Mexico Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata) is found widely through the state, occurring in all 33 counties and in elevation ranges from 3,000 to above 8,500 feet.  Outside of New Mexico it occurs from central Texas and western Oklahoma to Arizona and south into Mexico.

Males are about 2 1/2 inches in body length.  On the top side the animal is variable in color, being gray, brown or dusky green.  One identifying mark is the lack of a “boss,” a circular round projection, between the eyes.  The eyes are close together and appear close to the top of the head.  Like other spadefoots, they have vertical pupils.  On each hind leg is a small, hard, wedge-shaped structure which is used for digging into moist soil.  Spadefoots remain in these underground refuges until the onset of monsoon rains.

After the rains start and low areas are filled with water, males emerge and begin calling to females which arrive later.  The voice of this species has been described as sounding like a fingernail running across the teeth of a comb.  Males frequently call while floating on the surface of the water.  When handled or held by a predator, the species gives off an odor which smells like roasted peanuts.