PLAINS SPADEFOOT
Spea bombifrons (Cope 1863)
spē-ŭh — bäm-bĭ'-fräns


Conservation Status:

State: None

Federal: None
NatureServe State: S5 - Secure
NatureServe National: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Global: G5 - Secure
CITES: None

An adult female Plains Spadefoot from Wallace County, Kansas. © Travis W. Taggart.
An adult male Plains Spadefoot chorusing in Pratt County, Kansas. © Travis W. Taggart.
An adult Plains Spadefoot from Scott County. © Kurt Meier.
An adult female Plains Spadefoot from Morton County, Kansas. © Travis W. Taggart.
An adult female Plains Spadefoot from Logan County, Kansas. © Travis W. Taggart.
Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
A tadpole of Spea bombifrons. Image © Altig et al. (2006).
A tadpole of spea bombifrons. Image © Altig et al. (2006).

Description:
Length in Kansas up to 2.5 inches. They have a pattern or irregular (sometimes striped) greenish to brown blotches on their head, back, and limbs against a light gray to tan background. The back may be covered with small red to yellow tipped warts. Their bellies are white and unspotted. The pupils are oriented vertically (in all other native Kansas frogs the pupils are oriented horizontally). There is a hard bump or ‘boss’ between the eyes on the top of their head.
Adults normally 38-50 mm (1½-2 inches) in SVL; largest Kansas specimen: male (KU 20012) from Barber County with SVL of 64 mm (2½ inches) collected by Claude W. Hibbard on 29 August 1935; this is the maximum length throughout the range (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Distribution:
The Plains Spadefoot is found in western Kansas to the edge of the Flint Hills, and east along the floodplain of the Kansas and Missouri rivers. It is seldom encountered except when chorusing or moving (often across roads) during rainy weather. It prefers areas with sandy loose soil.
(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 1,695
    Records 
  • 1,469
    Museum Vouchers 
  • 226
    Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Atchison (2); Barber (47); Barton (33); Cheyenne (19); Clark (10); Clay (1); Cloud (2); Comanche (22); Cowley (4); Decatur (5); Dickinson (1); Doniphan (1); Douglas (206); Edwards (3); Ellis (116); Ellsworth (1); Finney (68); Ford (3); Geary (2); Gove (1); Graham (17); Grant (4); Gray (10); Greeley (4); Hamilton (6); Harper (15); Harvey (3); Haskell (1); Hodgeman (1); Jefferson (31); Jewell (3); Johnson (4); Kearney (12); Kingman (24); Kiowa (1); Lane (4); Leavenworth (2); Logan (24); Marion (1); Marshall (5); McPherson (15); Meade (77); Mitchell (7); Morton (144); Ness (27); Norton (1); Osborne (5); Ottawa (1); Pawnee (19); Phillips (10); Pottawatomie (15); Pratt (16); Rawlins (1); Reno (65); Rice (9); Riley (32); Rooks (5); Rush (158); Russell (7); Saline (4); Scott (30); Sedgwick (2); Seward (24); Shawnee (1); Sheridan (1); Sherman (53); Stafford (70); Stanton (4); Stevens (7); Sumner (5); Thomas (119); Trego (14); Unknown (1); Wabaunsee (1); Wallace (16); Washington (3); Wichita (2); Wyandotte (4);

Natural History:
They are explosive breeders. Following heavy warm mid-Spring rains, the males of this species will leave their burrows and congregate around smaller water-filled depression to commence chorusing. Females arrive shortly thereafter, and their eggs are laid and fertilized by the males. Each female will lay her 2,000+ eggs in 10 to 15 masses attached to vegetation. The time from egg to the development of a young froglet varies with the environmental conditions of the pool (temperature, dissolved oxygen, and competition), but transformations are known to occur in as little as one week. Tadpoles, typically eat vegetation in the pools, but as conditions become crowded as the pool slowly dries, the larger individuals will turn cannibalistic.

Occurrence Activity:
The blue dates denote chorusing actity. The red dates are other occurrences. The darker a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.
Chorusing:

Audio recording by Keith Coleman.

Chorusing Phenology: The black outlined dots denote the Julian date (day of the year; 1 January = 1 to 31 December = 365) an observation was made. The thin red line depicts the range of dates between the beginning of the first, and end of the fourth quartile (excluding outliers; Tukey method). The thick light blue bar represents the second and third quartile (interquartile range; the middle 50% of all observations). Only one observation per Julian date is included in the graphs; so a date with multiple observations carries the same weight as a date with only one observation. The vertical bars correspond to the 12 months of the year; January through December.
# Unique Obervations: 165; Range: 27 Mar to 14 Aug; Interquartile range: 10 May to 27 Jun;

Observation Type: (of recorded types)
Remarks:
Plains Spadefoots are active on humid nights, and during such times, they are often readily encountered on roads through suitable habitat, from April into September.

Bibliography:
1929 Taylor, Edward H. List of reptiles and batrachians of Morton County, Kansas, reporting species new to the state fauna. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 19(6):63-65
1932 Kellogg, Remington. Notes on the spadefoot of the Western Plains (Scaphiopus hammondii). Copeia 1932(1):36
1933 Smith, Hobart M. The Amphibians of Kansas Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 383pp.
1934 Brennan, Lawrence A. A check list of the amphibians and reptiles of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():189-191
1935 Brennan, Lawrence A. Notes on the Distribution of Amphibia and Reptilia of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 114pp.
1937 Brennan, Lawrence A. A study of the habitat of reptiles and amphibians of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 40():341-347
1942 Hudson, G. E. The amphibians and reptiles of Nebraska. Nebraska Conservation Bulletin 24():1-146
1944 Marr, John C. Notes on amphibians and reptiles from the central United States. American Midland Naturalist 32(2):478-490
1950 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication (2):336
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1962 Gish, Charles D. The Herpetofauna of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 34pp.
1974 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (1):283 pp
1974 Perry, Janice. KHS members take trip to southwest Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (3):2-3
1975 Rundquist, Eric M. First KHS field trip yields three county records. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (7):1-3
1976 Capron, Marty and Jan Perry. A July weekend in Great Bend. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (14):1-2
1976 Rundquist, Eric M. Field checklist (of) amphibians and reptiles of Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society, Lawrence. pp.
1977 Knight, James L. and Joseph T. Collins. The amphibians and reptiles of Cheyenne County, Kansas, Report Number 15. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 19pp.
1978 Capron, Marty. Four county collecting raid: A south central Kansas herping saga. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (26):9-12
1978 Curl, Richard L. Final Environmental Statement: Milford Lake Kansas operation and maintenance. US Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District. 158pp.
1978 Warner, M. and R. Wencel. Chikaskia River study held near Caldwell. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (25):15-16
1979 Gray, Peter and Eddie Stegall. A field trip to the Red Hills. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (29):6-8
1980 Clarke, Robert F. Herptiles and fishes of the western Arkansas River in Kansas. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 55pp.
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. 2nd edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (8):
1984 Schwarting, Nancy. KHS field trip, May 1984. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (57):3-4
1987 Irwin, K. J. and J. T. Collins Amphibians and reptiles of Cheyenne Bottoms. Cheyenne Bottoms: an environmental assessment Kansas Biological Survey and the Kansas Geological Survey, Lawrence. pp.
1988 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1987. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (71):13-19
1990 Collins, Joseph T. Maximum size records for Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (81):13-17
1990 Collins, Joseph T. Results of second Kansas herp count held during April-May 1990. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (81):10-12
1991 Collins, Joseph T. Results of third Kansas herp count held during April-May 1991. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (85):9-13
1991 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Reptiles and Amphibians of the Cimarron National Grasslands, Morton County, Kansas. U. S. Forest Service, Elkhart, Kansas. 60pp.
1991 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1992 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1991. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (87):12-17
1992 Collins, Joseph T. Results of the fourth Kansas herp count held during April-May 1992. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (89):10-
1992 Taggart, Travis W. KHS field trips. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (91):3
1992 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS annual field trip to Sheridan County State Lake. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (90):3-4
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the fifth Kansas herp count held during April-June 1993 . Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (94):7-11
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Lawrence. 397pp.
1994 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1993. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (97):15-19
1994 Fitzgerald, Eve and Charles Nilon Classification of habitats for endangered and threatened species in Wyandotte County, Kansas Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 98pp.
1995 Moriarty, Emily C. and Joseph T. Collins. First known occurrence of amphibian species in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (100):28-30
1995 Rundquist, Eric M. Additional KHS herp counts for 1995. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (102):11-
1995 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the seventh annual KHS herp counts held 1 April-31 May 1995. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (101):11-17
1996 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1995. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (103):13-15
1996 Rakestraw, J. Spring herp counts: A Kansas tradition. Reptile & Amphibian Magazine (March-April):75-80
1996 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the eighth annual KHS herp counts Held 1 April-31 May 1996. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (104):6-17
1997 Taggart, Travis W. Status of Bufo debilis (Anura: Bufonidae) in Kansas Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (109):7-12
1998 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1999 Rundquist, Eric M. Kansas Herpetological Society herp counts: A 10 year summary and evaluation. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (115):42962
2000 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the eleventh and twelfth annual KHS herpetofaunal counts for 1999-2000, held 1 April-31 May. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):11-16
2001 Kretzer, Justin E. and Jack F. Cully, Jr. Effects of Blacktailed Prairie Dogs on reptiles and amphibians in Kansas shortgrass prairie. Southwestern Naturalist 46(2):171-177
2001 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the thirteenth annual KHS herp counts for 2001, held 1 April-30 June. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (125):13-16
2001 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS spring field trip west. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (125):10
2002 Ellis, Mark R. Fall 2002 KHS field trip to Washington County. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):4-5
2002 Kingsbury, Bruce and Joanna Gibson. Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Midwest. Publication of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Address not given. 152pp.
2003 Suleiman, G. Fort Riley herpetofaunal count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (5):11-12
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Logan County herp count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (7):8
2004 Delisle, Jennifer M. and William H. Busby Biological inventory for vertebrates at Fort Larned National Historic Site of the southern plains network. Natural Heritage Inventory, Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 61pp.
2004 Taggart, Travis W. Kansas Herpetological Society 2004 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (9):2
2006 Altig, Ronald, Roy W. McDiarmid, Kimberly A. Nichols, and Paul C. Ustach Tadpoles of the United States and Canada: A Tutorial and Key Electronic files accessible at http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/tadpole/. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA. ():
2006 Frost, Darrel R, Taran Grant, Julian Faivovich, Raoul H. Bain, Alexander Haas, Celio F. B. Haddad, Rafael O. De Sa, Alan Channing, Mark Wilkinson, Stephen C. Donnellan, Christopher J. Raxworthy, Jonathan A. Campbell, Boris L. Blotto, Paul Moler, Robert C. Drewes, Ronald A. Nussbaum, John D. Lynch, David M. Green, and Ward C. Wheeler. The amphibian tree of life Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History (297):370
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Addendum report to biological inventory of the sandsage prairie near Holcomb, Kansas. Sunflower Electric Cooperative, Hays, Kansas. 31pp.
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2007 Taggart, Travis W. A biological inventory of the Sunflower Electric Site near Holcomb, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology 23():11-16
2007 Taggart, Travis W., Joseph T. Collins, and Curtis J. Schmidt. Estimates of amphibian, reptile, and turtle mortality if Phostoxin is applied to 10,000 acres of prairie dog burrows in Logan County, Kansas. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. 5pp.
2010 Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. 400pp.
2010 Miller, Larry L. 2010 Investigation of the Checkered Garter Snake in Kansas with notes on other Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles encountered. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 31pp.
2011 Taggart, Travis W. Kansas Herpetological Society 2011 spring field trip to beheld in Chautauqua County. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (37):5-7
2011 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the Kansas Herpetological Society 2011 Summer Field Trip to Scott State Park Journal of Kansas Herpetology (39):2
2011 Taggart, Travis W. and Daniel Murrow. KHS to conduct summer field trip to western Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (38):5
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2013 Bass, Neil The Missouri River Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Project: For the river, for you, and for herps. Collinsorum 2(1/2):10-11
2013 Mardis, Dexter and Kevin Scott. 2013 Kansas Herpetofaunal Counts. Collinsorum 2(3/4):7
2013 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2012 Summer Field Trip to Meade County State Park. Collinsorum 2(3/4):3
2013 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2013 Summer Field Trip to Coldwater Lake, Comanche County. Collinsorum 2(3/4):5
2014 Pence, William S. Reconfirmation of the Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons) at the Fort Riley Military Reservation. Collinsorum 3(2-4):13
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the 2014 KHS Spring Field Trip to Barber County Collinsorum 3(2-4):11
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the 2014 KHS summer field trip to Morton County and adjacent Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Collinsorum 3(2-4):12
2015 Bass, Neil. Herpetological (Frog and Turtle) Inventories along the Missouri River in Kansas. Collinsorum 4(1):5-9
2015 Brown, Kasandra A. Occupancy Modeling Of Herpetofauna And Grassland Nesting Birds At Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 72pp.
2015 Taggart, Travis W. Spring Field Trip to the Greenhorn Limestone of Russell County. Collinsorum 4(3):2
2015 Taggart, Travis W. Summer Field Trip In The Harvey County Sandhills. Collinsorum 4(3):3
2016 Pittman, Galen L., Henry S. Fitch, and W. Dean Kettle Vertebrate animals on the Fitch Natural History Reservation (1948-2002) Kansas Biological Survey Report Number 188, Lawrence. 48pp.
2016 Powell, Robert, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. 494pp.
2016 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS ‘Fall’ field trip to Barber County. Collinsorum 5(2-3):6-7
2016 Taggart, Travis W. Spring 2016 KHS field trip to Clark County was a soggy success. Collinsorum 5(2-3):2-3
2017 Snyder, Ariel Survey Of Anuran Chytrid (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in Kansas and the Influence of Anuran Life History in Occurrence. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 53pp.
2017 Taggart, Travis W. and J. Daren Riedle. A Pocket Guide to Kansas Amphibians, Turtles and Lizards. Great Plains Nature Center, Wichita, Kansas. 69pp.
2020 Riedle, J. Daren. Revisiting Kansas Herpetological Society field trip and Herp Count data: Distributional patterns and trend data of Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Collinsorum 9(1):7-16
Account Last Updated:
9/11/2020 4:07:28 PM