SPADEFOOT TOADS- The Race

In the Sonoran desert of Arizona and New Mexico, it’s a busy time for spadefoot toads. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

In shallow ponds filled by the annual monsoon rains here, male spadefoot toads produce a deafening chorus of mating calls. With only two months to feed and mate, the males have reason to be aggressive. Once the rains end, both male and female toads will bury into the ground where they’ll remain for the next ten months.

“They will hear the rain as it hits the ground. And the sound brings them up out of the ground. And then, it’s a bonanza; it’s a feast. And if they’re reproductives; if they’re adults, they hit the ponds, they breed that night and then they just gorge themselves on all the insects which are also coming out with the rains. They put on as much weight as they can before the ground begins to harden and then they go back under again for another ten months.”

Tony Frankino is with the Biology Department at Indiana University.

“If it doesn’t rain again, they won’t come up again. When we come out at night, if there’s been a storm that has moved across the road, we’ll see the toads out foraging– but only on nights when it rains. So every time that it rains now, they’ll come up and they’ll eat as much as they can because it might be their last meal.”

“As the season comes to a close, as the ground begins to harden, they’ll bury themselves, and they’ll spend the next ten or eleven months in a state of metabolic arrest, stasis, waiting on the rains.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

SPADEFOOT TOADS- The Race

With only two months to make the transition from egg to toad- there's no time for dawdling for these desert amphibians.
Air Date:08/03/1999
Scientist:
Transcript:

In the Sonoran desert of Arizona and New Mexico, it's a busy time for spadefoot toads. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

In shallow ponds filled by the annual monsoon rains here, male spadefoot toads produce a deafening chorus of mating calls. With only two months to feed and mate, the males have reason to be aggressive. Once the rains end, both male and female toads will bury into the ground where they'll remain for the next ten months.

"They will hear the rain as it hits the ground. And the sound brings them up out of the ground. And then, it's a bonanza; it's a feast. And if they're reproductives; if they're adults, they hit the ponds, they breed that night and then they just gorge themselves on all the insects which are also coming out with the rains. They put on as much weight as they can before the ground begins to harden and then they go back under again for another ten months."

Tony Frankino is with the Biology Department at Indiana University.

"If it doesn't rain again, they won't come up again. When we come out at night, if there's been a storm that has moved across the road, we'll see the toads out foraging-- but only on nights when it rains. So every time that it rains now, they'll come up and they'll eat as much as they can because it might be their last meal."

"As the season comes to a close, as the ground begins to harden, they'll bury themselves, and they'll spend the next ten or eleven months in a state of metabolic arrest, stasis, waiting on the rains."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.