- Are cold-blooded. They cannot maintain their body temperature by internal means.
- Have moist skin with no protective scales or shells.
- Lay soft, gelatinous eggs with no shell.
- Lay their eggs in water or some other situation where they will remain moist.
- Start their life in the water in a gilled larval state (called tadpoles in frogs and toads).
- Have no claws on their toes.
Common Urban Amphibians
Great Plains Toad
Blanchard's Cricket Frog
Plains Leopard Frog
Frogs and Toads
If you spot a critter with no tail and hind legs adapted for jumping, you've got a frog or toads. Toads typically have warty skin and can travel much further from water than frogs. All toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads.
Good news! This is a myth. (But please don't kiss toads; they're poisonous.)
Kissing a frog will not turn it into a prince, though it might appreciate it.
The problem is that some frogs, like treefrogs, produce toxins that can burn your eyes and tongue. So don't rub your eyes, don't lick your fingers, and kiss at your own risk.
PS: Toads, which are covered in warty little bumps, also produce poisons from glands behind their eyes which can be unpleasant to get in your eyes and mouth.
Narrow-mouthed Toad. This toad eats parasitic mites to help the tarantula, and in turn, the tarantula offers the toad protection. It's not uncommon to find a narrow-mouthed toad hanging out under a rock with a tarantula.
The American Bullfrog! Sidenote, they have tasty legs, but you'll need a fishing license to catch and eat one.
DID YOU KNOW?
Toads lay their eggs in long chains, and frogs lay their eggs in a cluster.
Salamanders and Newts
These long-tailed amphibians look superficially like a lizard without scales. All newts are salamanders, but not all salamanders are newts. Many of these animals are threatened or endangered and are found in only a few areas in Kansas.
Larval salamanders look a lot like tadpoles, but they have soft external gills.
Salamanders can become reproductively mature without transforming into their adult state. These permanently juvenile salamanders are called "neotenic." The axolotl is one example of a neotenic salamander--if it was prompted to go through metamorphosis, it would look a lot like a Tiger Salamander. Populations of entirely neotenic native salamanders have been discovered in Kansas.
Even our common salamanders are difficult to spot in the wild because of their reclusive, nocturnal, and/or burrowing habits. If you want to see a wild salamander, your best bet is driving at night after a rain in the summer. If you're lucky, you'll spot a salamander cruising across the road.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Barred Tiger Salamander
Official State Amphibian of Kansas
Barred tiger salamanders are primarily nocturnal. They are opportunistic feeders eating anything they can catch, including various insects, slugs, and earthworms.