Amphibians Of North America: List With Pictures & Facts. Discover Amazing North American Frogs, Toads & Salamanders!

North American amphibians list with pictures and facts. Meet the amazing frogs, salamanders and caecilians of North America …

North American Amphibians: Introduction

(Scroll down to see the list)

North America is the world’s third-largest continent. It has polar, temperate and tropical regions, and a wide range of habitats, including temperate and tropical rainforests, grasslands, mountains, rivers and lakes.

Unsurprisingly, North America is home to a large number of amphibians. Species in all three amphibian orders are present on the continent, although there are only 3 caecilians (all of which are found in Mexico).

  • The three amphibian orders are: Anura (frogs and toads); Caudata (salamanders); and Gymnophiona (caecilians).
  • You can find out more about the different types of amphibian, and the amazing amphibian life cycle, on this page: Amphibians: The Ultimate Guide

Other Amphibian Articles On Active Wild


Amphibians in the United States of America

The United States is home to 307 amphibian species. Of these, 109 are frogs (and toads) and 198 are salamanders.

  • 217 amphibians are endemic to (i.e. ‘only found in’) the United States.

Amphibians in Mexico

Mexico has 390 amphibian species. Of these, 241 are frogs and toads, 146 are salamanders, and 3 are caecilians.

  • 271 amphibians are endemic to Mexico.

Amphibians in Canada

Canada is the largest North American country by area. However, the Arctic and subarctic climate of much of the country provide fewer suitable habitats for amphibians.

46 amphibian species are present in Canada. Of these, 25 are frogs and toads and 21 are salamanders.

(The above figures are from AmphibiaWeb, July 2018)


North American Amphibians List

Among the amphibians on this page you’ll find: cave-dwelling amphibians that no longer need the use of their eyes; huge river-dwelling amphibians that prey on fish; and frogs that spend most of their lives underground!

You can find in-depth information on many of the amphibians on this list by following the links provided.


American Bullfrog

American bullfrog
During the winter months, the American bullfrog is able to hibernate at the bottom of a pond without having to come up to the surface to breathe.
  • Scientific name: Lithobates catesbeianus
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The American bullfrog is the largest member of the ‘true frog’ family Ranidae found in the US. It is native to the eastern United States and Canada. The species has also been introduced into many other parts of the United States and as well as into Mexico.

The American bullfrog is olive-green in color. Males are smaller than females, and can be identified by their yellow throats.

The bullfrog gets its name from the loud, ‘bull-like’ calls made by the males during the breeding season.


American Green Tree Frog

American green treefrog
Photo by Mark Musselman/National Audubon Society/USFWS
  • Scientific name: Hyla cinerea
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The American green tree frog is found in the southeastern and central United States, where it is relatively common. The species is the state amphibian of both Georgia and Louisiana. It grows to lengths of around 6 cm (2.5 in) and ranges in color from lime to olive-green.


American Spadefoot Toads

couchs-spadefoot-toad
Couch’s spadefoot toad. Photo by Gary M. Stolz, USFWS
  • Family: Scaphiopodidae

Members of the amphibian family Scaphiopodidae are known as the American spadefoot toads. They are divided between two genera: Scaphiopus, or North American spadefoots; and Spea, otherwise known as the western spadefoot toads.

American spadefoot toads get their name from the hard, spade-like projections on their feet. This adaptation allows them to dig backwards into soft earth. Some species spend as much as 10 months of the year underground.


Amphiumas

Two-toad amphiuma. Photo by Brian Gratwicke (originally posted to Flickr as Amphiuma (two-toed)) [CC BY 2.0]
  • Family: Amphiumidae

Amphiumas are aquatic salamanders in the family Amphiumidae. (Aquatic salamanders spend all of their lives in the water, whereas terrestrial salamanders leave the water after having metamorphosed.)

Amphiumas have elongated, eel-like bodies. Their legs are very small and are vestigial (i.e. they have no function, and are the remnants of the legs of ancestral species).

Amphiumas are also known as ‘Congo eels’ due to their long, slender bodies.

There are three species of amphiuma: the three, two and one-toed amphiuma. All are found in the United States.


Axolotl

Axolotl
The axolotl never undergoes metamorphosis and retains its gills even in adulthood.
  • Scientific name: Ambystoma mexicanum
  • Conservation status: Critically Endangered

The axolotl is an aquatic salamander found in Mexico. Due to habitat loss the species is now critically endangered in the wild. Unlike many amphibians, the axolotl does not undergo metamorphosis. It retains its gills and does not leave the water even as an adult.

Axolotls have the ability to regenerate lost limbs and other body parts.

  • You can find out more about this species in this page: Axolotl Facts

Barton Springs Salamander

Barton Springs Salamander
Barton Springs Salamander. Photo by Ryan Hagerty/USFWS
  • Scientific name: Eurycea sosorum
  • Conservation status: Vulnerable

The Barton Springs salamander is only found in Barton Springs, a system of freshwater pools in Austin, Texas. It is a member of the family Plethodontidae, otherwise known as the lungless salamanders. As the name suggests, members of this family do not possess lungs, and instead ‘breathe’ with their skin.


Cave Salamander / Spotted-Tail Salamander

Cave Salamander
Cave Salamander. Photo by Greg Schechter [CC BY 2.0]
  • Scientific name: Eurycea lucifuga
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The cave salamander (also known as the spotted-tail salamander) is a lungless salamander that attains oxygen via its skin rather than by breathing. It reaches lengths of 10-20 cm (4 – 8 in.) including the long tail.  The skin is orange and marked with numerous dark spots.

The cave salamander is frequently found in caves, but is also present in forest habitats. The tail is prehensile (able to grip) and is used when climbing.


Colorado River Toad

Colorado Toad American Amphibian

  • Scientific name: Incilius alvarius
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The Colorado River toad is also known as the Sonoran Desert toad. It is found in desert habitats in the southeastern United States and in Mexico. It is the largest member of the ‘true toad’ family (Bufonidae) native to the United States.

(The cane toad – an invasive species introduced from South America – is the only toad found in the United States larger than the Colorado River Toad.)

The Colorado River toad grows to around 19 cm (7.5 in.) in length. Its skin is warty and olive-green / brown-green in color. At the back of its head are two large poison glands. Eating a Colorado River toad can be fatal for a pet dog.


Common Mudpuppy

common mudpuppy

  • Scientific name: Necturus maculosus
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The common mudpuppy is found in freshwater streams and lakes in the eastern United States and southern Canada. It is an aquatic salamander that retains its gills in adulthood and spends all of its life in the water.

The common mudpuppy reaches lengths of around 33 cm (13 in) and is grey-brown in color with darker spots. This nocturnal species preys on invertebrates such as insects, mollusks and worms.


Greater / Lesser Sirens

Greater Siren amphibian
Greater Siren. Image by USGS.
  • Genus: Siren
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The greater siren and the lesser siren are the only species in the genus Siren. Sirens have long, eel-like bodies and a single pair of legs. They are found in wetlands in the southern United States and in Mexico. In dry periods sirens can remain buried in the mud for months at a time.


Hellbender

Ozark hellbender
Ozark hellbender
  • Scientific name: Cryptobranchus alleganiensis
  • Conservation status: Near Threatened

The hellbender is the largest amphibian found in the Americas. It reaches lengths of up to 74 cm (29 in.) and is the third-largest amphibian in the world (only the Chinese giant salamander and the Japanese giant salamander are larger).

The hellbender inhabits clean, fast-flowing rivers and streams in the eastern United States. Although the species has gills, it is also able to breathe via its skin, and has loose frills of skin running along its sides for this purpose.


Long-Tailed Salamander

long tailed salamander
Photo by Ryan Hagerty / USFWS
  • Scientific name: Eurycea longicauda
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The long-tailed salamander is a lungless cave salamander found in the Appalachian Region of the United States. Its color ranges from yellow to orange-red, and its body and tail are marked with black spots.

The species can reach lengths of around 12 cm (4.7 in). The tail makes up more than half of the animal’s length.


Mexican Burrowing Toad

Mexican burrowing toad
Photo by Greg Schechter from San Francisco, USA (Mexican burrowing toad) [CC BY 2.0]
  • Scientific name: Rhinophrynus dorsalis
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The Mexican burrowing toad is found in southern Texas, Mexico, and many parts of Central America. It has a unique appearance, with a flat, saucer-shaped body and bright orange-red markings. When threatened or when calling, the Mexican burrowing toad swells up like a balloon.

The feet of the Mexican burrowing toad are equipped with hard extensions used for digging. It spends much of its life underground.


Mississippi Gopher Frog / Dusky Gopher Frog

Mississippi Gopher frog
Mississippi Gopher frog. Photo USFWS.
  • Scientific name: Lithobates sevosus
  • Conservation status: Critically Endangered

The Mississippi gopher frog (also known as the dusky gopher frog) is a critically endangered amphibian native to the southern United States. It is today only found in two locations in Mississippi. Its color ranges from black to grey, and its warty skin is covered in spots.

It is thought that there are fewer than 250 Mississippi gopher frogs left in the wild.


Pacific Giant Salamanders

Pacific Giant Salamander
A neotenic Pacific Giant Salamander. Photo by Ledig, David/USFWS
  • Family: Dicamptodontidae

Pacific giant salamanders are a family of large salamanders found in the western United States and in southern Canada. Reaching lengths of up to 30 cm (12 in.), they are among the largest terrestrial salamanders in the world.

Unlike most salamanders, Pacific giant salamanders are capable of making vocalizations. When threatened they produce a croaky, bark-like call.


Pacific Tree Frog

Pacific Tree Frog
Pacific Chorus Tree Frog or Pacific Tree Frog at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Shive, Ian/USFWS-TV
  • Scientific name: Pseudacris regilla
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The Pacific tree frog is also known as both the Northern Pacific tree frog and the Pacific chorus frog. It is found along the United States’ west coast, west of the Rockies. Its color ranges from black to bright green (most are either green or brown). Males have a dark throat patch which inflates when they are calling. Females are larger than males, reaching lengths of around 5 cm (2 in.).


Pickerel Frog

Pickerel Frog
Pickerel Frog. Photo by Sam Hopewell [CC BY-SA 3.0]
  • Scientific name: Lithobates palustris
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The distinctively-patterned pickerel frog has two rows of brown squares running along its back. The species is found throughout much of the central and eastern United States. Its skin secretes toxins and the frog is avoided by some predators. The species hibernates during the winter.


Red Hills Salamander

Red Hills Salamander
Red Hills Salamander. Photo: Dodd, C. K. Jr. / USFWS
  • Scientific name: Phaeognathus hubrichti
  • Conservation status: Endangered

The Red Hills salamander is only found in the Red Hills region of Alabama. This endangered amphibian grows to lengths of around 25 cm (10 in.). Its skin is pinky-grey in color and the legs are short.

The species’ endangered status is mainly due to habitat loss caused by logging. Conservation efforts are underway, and in 2010 the United States Nature Conservancy acquired 723 hectares of land in order to protect the species.

The Red Hills salamander is the official state amphibian of Alabama.


Red-Backed Salamander (Eastern)

Eastern red-backed salamander
Eastern red-backed salamander. Photo: Geer, Kelly / USFWS
  • Scientific name: Plethodon cinereus
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The red-backed salamander is the United State’s most common salamander. It is found in the eastern United States and in southeastern Canada. It is a small, terrestrial salamander that inhabits the leaf litter of forests and woodlands.

The red-backed salamander has two distinct forms: one has a red stripe running the length of its back and tail, the other lacks the red stripe and is instead brown-grey in color.


Texas Blind Salamander

Texas Blind Salamander
Texas Blind Salamander. Photo: Ryan Hagerty/USFWS
  • Scientific name: Eurycea rathbuni
  • Conservation status: Vulnerable

This pale-skinned species of salamander is only found in the underground waters of the Edwards Plateau in Texas. It has vivid red gills and a wide, flat snout. The eyes have lost their function and are covered in skin.

The Texas blind salamander is around 8 – 13.5 cm (3 – 5.5 in.) in length. It remains aquatic throughout its life and does not metamorphose.


Tiger Salamander

tiger salamander usfws

  • Scientific name: Ambystoma tigrinum
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The tiger salamander is a member of the genus Ambystoma, otherwise known as the mole salamanders. Like all mole salamanders it has large eyes, thick limbs and ridges along its sides (these are known as ‘costal grooves’.

The tiger salamander is the largest terrestrial salamander found in North America. It grows to a length of around 36 cm (14 in.). It has blotchy black / yellow markings.

The species is found throughout much of the United States, as well as in southern Canada. It is often kept as a pet and is the official state amphibian of Illinois.


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