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Amphibians

What is an amphibian?

Amphibians...

  • 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

woodhouse's toad

Woodhouse's Toad

great plains toad

Great Plains Toad

blanchard's cricket frog

Blanchard's Cricket Frog

american bullfrog

American Bullfrog

plains leopard frog

Plains Leopard Frog

Q: My pet tried to eat a toad!

> Toads in Kansas may cause drooling and foaming saliva, but their poisons pose no actual threat to pets.

Your cat or dog will not experience any serious circulatory or neurological problems and will shake it off on their own, but watch your animal and call your vet if you have any concerns. Bathing your pet and washing their mouth out can help.

Toads in other parts of the United States can be incredibly toxic, so use caution when traveling outside the great plains.

Learn more >

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.

Do toads cause warts?

Good news! This is a myth. (But please don't kiss toads; they're poisonous.)

Can I kiss a frog?

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.

Which amphibian has a relationship with a tarantula?

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.

What's the largest frog in the USA?

The American Bullfrog! Sidenote, they have tasty legs, but you'll need a fishing license to catch and eat one.

DID YOU KNOW?

SQUISHY EGGS

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.

What does a baby salamander look like?

Larval salamanders look a lot like tadpoles, but they have soft external gills.

What is the State Amphibian of Kansas?

Salamanders can refuse to grow up.

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.

Where can I find a wild salamander?

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.

Want to learn more? Download our free Pocket Guide to Kansas Amphibians! Take it with you on your device wherever you go, or pick up your own pocket-sized copy at our front desk during your next visit.