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Scaphiopus holbrookii



Scaphiopus holbrookii, commonly known as the eastern spadefoot, is a species of American spadefoot toad (family Scaphiopodidae) endemic to North America.

Geographic range

It is found in the southeastern United States, except for mountainous areas, and is also found northward along the Atlantic coast, through the Mid-Atlantic states, into southern New England, including eastern Massachusetts. It is found in inland states such as Pennsylvania and New York, but only as far westward as the Appalachian Mountains, and the Hudson River Valley in New York.

Description



The average length of an adult eastern spadefoot is . It is brownish in color, with two yellowish stripes on its back. These stripes, which begin on the upper eyelids, may diverge or converge, resulting in a pattern resembling a lyre or an hourglass. Some specimens may be very dark, with less distinct markings. It has one spur on each of its back feet for burrowing. A similar species is Hurter's spadefoot toad, which was once considered a subspecies of S. holbrookii.

Behavior

Scaphiopus holbrookii spends almost all of its life deep underground; coming out only to breed, and sometimes eat. It remains in a type of hibernation almost all its life. It burrows in a spiral, preferring sandy soils.

Research has looked into the habitat selection of the species, and has found that it tends to hover around upland areas. It has shown preference for being close to deciduous shrub edges, low-growing pitch pine branches, and reindeer lichen. This environment provides an easy place to burrow land, with dense prey biomass, and protection from predators.

Conservation status

While not listed as an endangered species by the U.S. federal government, S. holbrookii is considered "threatened" in Massachusetts. In that state and in 13 others, it is listed as a "Species of Greatest Conservation Need".

Etymology

The epithet, holbrookii, is in honor of John Edwards Holbrook, American herpetologist.