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17 animals amazingly adapted to thrive in deserts

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on March 4, 2014, 9 a.m.
couch's spadefoot toad

Photo: Matt Jeppson /Shutterstock

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Couch's spadefoot toad

This little toad has adapted better to desert conditions than any other amphibian in North America. It survives by doing, well, mostly nothing. It mostly stays in a burrow waiting for the rainy season. The Couch’s spadefoot toad can stay in a state of estivate for eight to 10 months out of the year, but if dry conditions require, it can stay in its burrow for twice that long. When rain does appear, the toads head straight for newly formed ponds. It can lay eggs within the first two days of reappearing, and tadpoles can hatch within 15-36 hours. It takes only a little more than a week for the tadpoles to transform into adults. The rush is important because in the desert, ponds dry up fast. Adults have to eat as many insects as they can before digging a burrow to nap for the next eight to 10 months.