These small toadlike amphibians have large, protruding eyes. The pupils of their eyes are vertical and elliptical. The hind legs are short, and the underside of each hind foot has a distinct, wedge-shaped spade, hence its name. There may be some green on the sides, and the back and sides might have tiny reddish “warts.” The small, irregular blotches on the back and legs are dark brown and may encircle the majority of their tiny warts. Call is an extended rasping or nasal “garvank” called at intervals of one-half to one second.
Similar species: The eastern spadefoot, which occurs in eastern counties along the Mississippi River and in southeastern Missouri, is distinguished by the absense of a raised area between the eyes and by having a sickle-shaped spade at the base of each hind foot.