A small toad of the family Pelobatidae, the genus is characteristically short-legged and squat, having vertical "cat-eye" pupils, and a black, keratinized spade (used for burrowing) on the underside of each hind foot.Their skin is relatively smooth compared to the rough, warty epidermis of truetoads (genus Bufo). Females are slighty larger than males. Distinguishing features include a slightly upturned, "pug-nose", a raised callus, or boss, between the eyes, and a dark brown or orange spot on each upper eyelid. Dorsal coloration is similar to that of other Spea and Scaphiopus species: Usually a brown, gray, or olive background, mottled with darker spots posessing light-colored centers. The ground color is variable and often matches the substrate. The venter is light gray, white, or creamy.
Tadpoles have large, globular or ovoid bodies, reaching 70 mm in total length. Their dorsal coloration is black, brown, or dark gray and flecked with metallic golds and rusts, while the abdomen displays an overall golden irridescence. The spiracle is located low on the abdomen, and to the left side.
- Orchard, S.A. (1992). ''Amphibian population declines in British Columbia.'' Declines in Canadian amphibian populations: designing a national monitoring strategy. C. A. Bishop nd K.E. Petit, eds., Canadian Wildlife Service, 10-13.
- Drost, C. A., and Fellers, G. M. (1996). "Collapse of a regional frog fauna in the Yosemite area of the California Sierra Nevada, USA." Conservation Biology, 10(2), 414-425.
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