Great Basin Spadefoot

Spea intermontana

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Status

Threatened (Federal)
Blue List (Provincial)

Description

Great Basin Spadefoots are about 4 to 6.5 cm in length, have vertical slitted yellow eyes, and relatively smooth skin with very small bumps. Spadefoots run from tan to grey to olive, their colour often matching the overall colour of their habitat. The belly is a pale cream colour. They also have a small "spade" on the underside of each hind foot which they use to burrow into loose soil to hibernate or seek shelter.

Spadefoots can be found through the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys, from Osoyoos and Cawston up north to Kamloops

Habitat

Wetland
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Grassland
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Riparian
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This species has a separate requirement for different stages of the year: breeding ponds (temporary and small ponds), foraging areas (adjacent riparian and grassland areas), and hibernating sites (loose, uncompacted soil in sagebrush flats, shrub-lands or woodlands). Spadefoots spend most of their life living in their terrestrial habitats, moving to breeding ponds for just a few days per year.

Threats

-Predation and disease transmission from invasive species (e.g. non-native fish, American Bullfrogs)
-Stocking of wetlands and ponds with invasive and/or non-native fish
-Loss of wetland habitat through destruction and modification
-Wetland draining resulting in the drying up of temporary ponds
-Use of pesticides and other water contaminants (or pollution)
-Habitat fragmentation, causing species isolation and an increasing risk of road mortality
-Livestock trampling and erosion of banks around wetlands
-Swimming pools with unprotected circulation pumps
-Compaction of soil through urban development, agricultural practices (including grazing and tiling), and recreational activities (ATV).

You Can Help!

-Avoid releasing fish into ponds and remove introduced fish
-Protect natural wetlands from livestock and fish stocking
-Remove invasive frogs that may carry disease or be predacious (e.g.American Bullfrog)
-Reduce wetland exposure to contaminants and pollution (e.g. increase vegetation buffers)
-Protect remaining wetlands and terrestrial habitat (e.g. grasslands and forested areas)
-Conserve water - over irrigation lowers the water table, and dries up small ponds
-Install floating ramps (e.g. a Frog Log (TM)) in swimming pools for escape
-Maintain natural sandy soils and vegetation instead of using sod, gravel, or pavement
-Prevent over-grazing, which causes soil compaction, and prevents the spadefoot from being able to dig itself in to the ground

Photo: Jonquil Crosby
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Photo: Jonquil Crosby
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