• Sierra del Carmen

    Big Bend

    National Park Texas

Amphibians

Couch's spadefoot toad

Couch's spadefoot toads are one of the most common desert amphibians seen after a summer rain.

James Borgmeyer

Deserts aren't usually considered rich in amphibians, and yet twelve species are found in Big Bend National Park. Along the banks of the Rio Grande, Leopard Frogs grunt and chuckle and the high trill of the spotted toad may be heard on warm summer nights near springs and moist areas.

Big Bend's most intruiging amphibian is the Spadefoot Toad. Named after the hard "spade" on each hind foot, the spadefoot lives in the hot deserts of the park. The majority of its life, this toad is deep underground sealed in a gelatinous slime coat to hold in body moisture. When they hear summer rainstorms on the surface above, spadefoots frantically dig out to find tiny pools of collected rainwater. They quickly sing to attract others. Mating takes place, eggs are laid, and tadpoles develop to adults within two weeks-hopefully before the pools dry up.

Did You Know?

Apollo 17 landing site

Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt visited Big Bend in 1971 to study the regions geology in preparation for their mission to the moon. This was one of four field trips to Big Bend that Apollo astronauts participated in between 1964 and 1971.