Amphibians are a fascinating group of animals that are characterized by their soft, almost slimy, moist skin and their complex life cycle. While they are harmless when left alone, many species are actually toxic or poisonous. The taxonomic group of amphibians includes frogs, toads, salamanders and newts, and strange snake-like amphibians called caecilians. In this article we’re going to discuss this particular type of animal, and introduce 25 different examples of amphibians.
First though let’s answer one simple question.
What is an amphibian?
Amphibians are cold-blooded vertebrates that are at least partially aquatic, and breathe through their skin. An amphibian’s life cycle is broken down into 2 stages, larval and adult. The larval stage is 100% aquatic and the adult stage may be only semi-aquatic.
25 Examples of Amphibians
Some general examples of amphibians are frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts. Keep reading for some more specific examples of amphibian species.
1. Spotted salamander
Scientific name: Ambystoma maculatum
The Spotted salamander is named for the brightly colored yellow spots that cover it’s body. They are relatively large for a salamander and can grow as long as about 10 inches. Spotted salamanders are found throughout southeastern Canada and most of the eastern United States.
2. Leopard frog
Scientific name: Lithobates spp.
There are many species of Leopard frogs, all of which are found in North, Central and South America. Leopard frogs have large spots and come in a variety of shades of green and brown with two stripes that run parallel from their eyes down their back. Leopard frogs are very adaptable and can be found in freshwater virtually anywhere, even in ponds in busy urban areas.
3. American bullfrog
Scientific name: Lithobates catesbeianus
American bullfrogs are famous for their loud, deep, bellowing croaks that males use to attract female bullfrogs during mating season. They are found throughout freshwater ponds, lakes and swamps in eastern North America. In the southern United States, American Bullfrogs are commonly caught and eaten.
4. Cane toad
Scientific name: Rhinella marina
Cane toads are native to South and Central America, but invasive populations have exploded in Australia, the Caribbean and parts of Oceania. Cane toads were originally introduced to these new regions to help control pests in sugarcane fields, but they have tragically caused more harm than good. Cane toads are extremely toxic and have been responsible for the poisoning of many household pets that have tried to eat the toads.
Scientific name: Ambystoma mexicanum
The Axolotl is a fully aquatic, freshwater dwelling salamander equipped with frilly gills to breathe underwater. They are critically endangered, and are now only found in a few select lakes in Mexico. Axolotls are fairly popular as pets and are common laboratory animals used in research due to the fact that they can regenerate their limbs.
6. Wood frog
Scientific name: Lithobates sylvaticus
Wood frogs are very well adapted to inhabiting the cooler temperatures of the Northern United States as well as most of Canada. In fact, they have a very high freeze tolerance and can actually withstand freezing of their blood and body tissues during winter months. Wood frogs are commonly found in vernal pools in wooded areas.
7. Tiger salamander
Scientific name: Ambystoma tigrinum
Tiger salamanders get their name from the striped pattern along their body, however their markings vary and they may have spots as well. These salamanders are large, and can grow between 6 and 14 inches. Tiger salamanders can be very difficult to find due to their secretive lifestyles as most of them live underground in burrows. They are distributed throughout almost the entire United States, southern Canada, and eastern Mexico.
8. Rough-skinned newt
Scientific name: Taricha granulosa
Newts are very closely related to salamanders, however they tend to lead more aquatic lifestyles than most salamanders. The Rough-skinned newt is named for its rough, wrinkled looking skin. They have a bright red belly that makes them easy to tell apart from other species of newts or salamanders.
These newts are found in the Pacific Northwest, parts of California and as far east as Montana. Rough-skinned newts are also one of the most poisonous animals in the world.
9. American toad
Scientific name: Anaxyrus americanus
This toad is common in the eastern United States as well as eastern Canada. There are actually three subspecies of the American toad, however they all share similar characteristics. American toads have textured skin giving them the appearance of warts and come in shades of light brown.
10. Red-eyed tree frog
Scientific name: Agalychnis callidryas
The Red-eyed tree frog is probably an animal you think of when you think of animals that live in the rainforest. As you have likely guessed, these frogs have bright red eyes that stand out against their bright green body. Red-eyed tree frogs are arboreal, or tree-dwelling frogs that live in the rainforests of Central America.
11. Pacman frog
Scientific name: Ceratophrys spp.
There are several species of Pacman frog which get their name for their pacman like appearance given their round body and disproportionately large mouth. They have also been called South American horned frogs due to the horn-like spikes above each eye. These frogs are native to South America but are very common in the exotic pet trade. Learn some interesting facts about pacman frogs here.
12. Eastern newt
Scientific name: Notophthalmus viridescens
Eastern newts are fairly common throughout the eastern states of America as well as eastern Canada. They can be found in moist environments near small ponds or vernal pools in both coniferous or deciduous forests. As juveniles, Eastern newts come in gorgeous shades of red, orange, or rust colors.
Scientific name: Cryptobranchus alleganiensis
The Hellbender is an incredible species of aquatic giant salamander. Hellbenders can grow to be nearly 30 inches long! These giant salamanders prefer swiftly moving water in streams and rivers and are found as far north as New York, as far south as Georgia and as far west as Arkansas.
14. Cuban tree frog
Scientific name: Osteopilus septentrionalis
Cuban tree frogs are native to Cuba, the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, but they have also been introduced as an invasive species in Florida, Hawaii and several other Caribbean Islands. They are nocturnal hunters and are not at all picky, they will eat just about anything that they can fit in their mouths- even other smaller frogs.
15. Koh Tao Island caecilian
Scientific name: Ichthyophis kohtaoensis
Caecilians are weird and wonderful animals that resemble a snake or worm for the fact that they have no limbs, but they are in fact an amphibian. The Koh Tao Island caecilian is native to several countries within Southeast Asia where it inhabits moist habitats in forests, swamps, along rivers and agricultural areas.
16. Spring peeper
Scientific name: Pseudacris crucifer
Spring peepers are small frogs but this doesn’t stop them from being incredibly loud. They are well known for their loud, continuous chirping sounds they make during the springtime. They are common in the eastern United States as well as Canada and are found in forests and woodlands where there are ponds, marshes or swamps present.
17. Pacific tree frog
Scientific name: Pseudacris regilla
Most people associate tree frogs with warm, tropical climates but the Pacific tree frog is an exception to that rule. These frogs are found in the Pacific Northwest, Canada and can even be found in the very southern regions of Alaska. They are arguably one of the most common frogs in their region.
18. Ringed salamander
Scientific name: Ambystoma annulatum
The Ringed salamander gets its name from the well defined, white rings that run down their backs. These salamanders are restricted to a small area in the United States and are only found in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. They are very secretive animals and spend much of their time underground in burrows.
19. Golden poison frog
Scientific name: Phyllobates terribilis
The Golden poison frog is small but can pack a mean punch. This little guy’s deadly toxins make it one of the most dangerous animals in the world. These frogs are only about the size of a paperclip but have enough toxin to kill at least 10 people. These deadly amphibians can be found along the Pacific coast in rainforests in Columbia.
20. Chinese giant salamander
Scientific name: Andrias davidianus
This amphibian looks like something to come out of a sci-fi movie due to their incredible size. Chinese giant salamanders can grow as long as 6 feet and can weigh as much as 130 pounds! They are entirely aquatic and can be found in rocky streams and lakes in China, Taiwan and Japan.
21. Desert rain frog
Scientific name: Breviceps macrops
The Desert rain frog is arguably one of the cutest amphibians on this list. They are renowned for their stout, round bodies and the high-pitched squeaking noise they make when threatened or irritated. These noisy frogs are native to arid, desert-like climates in Namibia and South Africa.
22. Southern spadefoot toad
Scientific name: Scaphiopus spp.
There are three species of Southern spadefoot toads, all of which share similarities. They get their name for their large, broad feet that they use to dig in loose soil and sandy substrate. Southern spadefoot toads are widely distributed throughout the United States and Northern Mexico.
23. Common mudpuppy
Scientific name: Necturus maculosus
Mudpuppies are a type of salamander that live an entirely aquatic lifestyle. They are similar to Axolotls, another type of aquatic salamander as they both have external gills that they use to breathe underwater. Common Mudpuppies live in freshwater bodies throughout much of eastern North America. In the northern part of their range, they are often referred to as Waterdogs.
24. Wallace’s flying frog
Scientific name: Rhacophorus nigropalmatus
While most people think of birds or bats when they think of flying animals, Wallace’s flying frog has adapted to glide through the air. These arboreal frogs have extra webbing in between their toes that allow them to parachute from tree to tree. Wallace’s flying frogs are native to Southeast Asia where they live high up in the trees in moist forests.
25. Glass frog
Scientific name: Centrolenidae
There are many species of Glass frogs, but what makes them so unique is their thin, translucent, almost clear skin on their belly. In fact, you can actually see almost the entire digestive tract of a Glass frog through their belly! Glass frogs are native to Central and South America and are arboreal frogs.