Couch's Spadefoot Toad Time

Midsummer is time for monsoon thunderstorms and toads here in Tucson, and these amphibians pop up everywhere in the desert after heavy rainstorms. This particular toad was accidentally unearthed behind my back wall, where it had been sleeping under a shallow layer of dirt and leaf litter in the shade of a Silk Oak tree. It's a Couch's Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus couchii) and unlike some other Tucson toads, it is not poisonous.

Couch's Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus couchii) in a purple flowerpot

After taking this picture, I returned the toad to it's shallow resting hole and covered it lightly with leaf litter. I put the flowerpot near the hole so I won't step on it in the future.

After a heavy rain, this toad and it's kin will emerge after dark to find a nice breeding pool, which in my yard is my small, ground-level, concrete bird pond. As soon as they reach the pond, male Couch's Spadefoot Toads immediately begin loudly advertising for mates with calls that sound just like the plaintive cries of a baby lamb. Every year I find Couch's Spadefoot Toad eggs and tadpoles in my bird pond, so their loud advertising is obviously quite successful.