13 COMMON Amphibians in Louisiana (ID Guide)

Are you wondering what amphibians you can find in Louisiana?

common amphibians in louisiana

 

This is a great question! Although amphibians are widespread, they can be challenging to locate. Most amphibians, including frogs, toads, and salamanders, are secretive and shy. But in my opinion, looking for amphibians is a really fun experience!

 

Below you will find a list of the most COMMON and interesting amphibians that live in Louisiana. In addition, you will find detailed pictures, along with range maps for each species to help with your identification!

 

 

13 Types of Amphibians That Live in Louisiana:


#1. American Bullfrog

  • Lithobates catesbeianus

Types of amphibians in louisiana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult body lengths range from 3.6 to 6 inches.
  • Coloration is typically olive green, with some individuals having gray or brown spots.
  • Fully webbed back feet.

 

The American Bullfrog is one of the largest amphibians in Louisiana!

 

Believe it or not, they can grow to weigh as much as 1.5 pounds (.7 kg). Bullfrogs can be found in permanent bodies of water, including swamps, ponds, and lakes.

American Bullfrog Range Map

american bullfrog range map

Green: native range. Red: introduced range.

 

Bullfrogs eat just about anything they can fit in their mouth and swallow! The list of prey includes other frogs, fish, turtles, small birds, bats, rodents, insects, crustaceans, and worms. I have personally witnessed one even trying to eat a baby duck!

 

 

They are named for their deep call, which is thought to sound like a bull bellowing.

https://youtu.be/M02_dnl9zCA?t=13

 


#2. Green Frog

  • Lithobates clamitans

amphibians in louisiana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult body lengths range from 2 to 4 inches, and the females are typically larger than males.
  • Coloration is normally green or brown with darker mottling or spots on the back.
  • Ridges run down the sides of the back, and they have webbed hind feet.

 

Green Frogs are among the easiest amphibians to find in Louisiana.

Green Frog Range Map

green frog range map

 

Look for them in permanent bodies of water, including lakes, ponds, swamps, and streams. They spend most of their time near the shoreline but jump into deeper water when approached. They also breed and lay eggs near the shore, typically in areas with aquatic vegetation.

 

The Green Frog produces a single-note call that is relatively easy to identify. Listen for a noise that sounds like a plucked banjo string, often repeated.

https://youtu.be/G0uGjsM_gh4?t=18

 

They use a “sit and wait” approach to hunt, so they are fairly opportunistic. Green Frogs will try to eat almost anything they can fit inside their mouth. The list includes spiders, insects, fish, crayfish, snails, slugs, small snakes, and even other frogs!

 


#3. Spring Peeper

  • Pseudacris crucifer

spring peeper - common amphibians in louisiana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are small and range from 1 to 1.5 inches long.
  • They’re typically tan or brown, with the females lighter in color.
  • Both males and females usually feature a darker cross or ‘X’ on their back.

 

These tiny amphibians are found across Louisiana.

 

You’ll typically spot Spring Peepers on the forest floor among the leaves. However, they have large toe pads that they use for climbing trees.

Spring Peeper Range Map

spring peeper range map

You can find them in ponds and small bodies of water, where they breed and lay eggs in the spring. After hatching, the young frogs remain in the tadpole stage for about three months before leaving the water.

 

Spring Peepers get their name from their distinctive spring chorus. They’re thought to sound like baby chickens’ peeps, and they are most often heard in early spring! LISTEN BELOW!

 


#4. Gray Treefrog

  • Dryophytes versicolor

gray tree frog - types of amphibians in louisiana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult body lengths range from 1.5 to 2 inches.
  • Mottled gray, green, and brown coloring. Look for a whitish spot beneath each eye.
  • Bumpy skin, short snouts, and bright orange on the undersides of their legs.
  • *Gray Treefrogs are essentially identical to Cope’s Gray Treefrogs. The only way to tell the difference is to listen to their breeding calls. You can learn more by visiting this site.*

 

Chameleons aren’t the only animal that can change colors! This incredible amphibian can slowly change colors to camouflage itself and match what it’s sitting on. They can vary from gray to green or brown. It’s common for their back to display a mottled coloring, much like lichen.

 

Gray Treefrogs are ubiquitous throughout their range. You’ll spot them in various wooded habitats, from backyards to forests to swamps. Like most amphibians in Louisiana, they tend to live close to a water source.

Gray Treefrog Range Map

gray tree frog range map

They stick to the treetops until it’s time to breed. Gray Treefrogs prefer to mate and lay eggs in woodland ponds without fish. They’ll also use swamps and garden water features.

 

Gray Treefrogs are easier to hear than to see.

Listen for a high trill that lasts about 1 second, commonly heard in spring and summer.

 

 


#5. Pickerel Frog

  • Lithobates palustris

pickerel frog - types of amphibians in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult body length ranges from 2 to 4 inches.
  • Dark green-brown coloration with two rows of dark squarish spots running down its back. The underside of the hind legs is a bright yellow.
  • Females are typically darker and larger than males.

 

Like many amphibians in northern Louisiana, Pickerel Frogs prefer cool, clear water. You can find them in ponds, rivers, lakes, slow-moving streams, and ditches.

Pickerel Frog Range Map

pickerel frog range map

Pickerel Frogs are one of the few poisonous amphibians in Louisiana!

 

When attacked, they produce toxic skin irritations that can be fatal to other animals and may cause skin irritation in humans if handled. So, as you can imagine, most predators leave them alone!

 

During the breeding season, the males attract females with a low, snore-like call. Then, the females will attach egg masses to branches in cool water, where the tadpoles will spend 87-95 days before becoming frogs.

 


#6. American Green Treefrog

  • Dryophytes cinereus

green tree frog

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can grow up to 2.5 inches long and have smooth skin.
  • Yellowish-green to lime green with pale yellow or white undersides.
  • White stripes down their sides sometimes have black borders.

 

Even though they are common in their range, these arboreal amphibians can be hard to find in Louisiana since they spend most of their lives high in trees. They also can change color based on light and temperature.

American Green Treefrog Range Map

green tree frog range map

American Green Treefrogs are often kept as pets. They are popular because of their attractive appearance, size, and how easy it is to take care of them. For example, they don’t require artificial heating like most amphibians. But being nocturnal, it’s unlikely you will see them moving around much, so they are probably not the most exciting pets!

 

Their breeding call is a repeated, abrupt, nasal “bark” that’s incredibly easy to identify. Therefore, sound is typically the best way to locate these amphibians.

 


#7. Fowler’s Toad

  • Anaxyrus fowleri

kinds of amphibians in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult length is 2-3 inches.
  • Coloring ranges from gray to brownish green or olive, with dark splotches on the back with three or more warts. Adults have a pale stripe down their backs.
  • The belly is usually white or yellowish, sometimes with dark spots breaking into smaller flecks.

 

Fowler’s Toads live in a wide range of habitats, including forests, river valleys, farms, and urban and suburban gardens. Like many other amphibians in Louisiana, they eat various insects and are very good at pest control!

Fowler’s Toad Range Map

 

The mating call of the Fowler’s Toad only lasts about 1-4 seconds. Listen for a nasal “wa-a-a-ah” sound, similar to the call of a Canada Goose.

Interestingly, the Fowler’s Toad mating call attracts both males and females.

The male occasionally tries to mate with another male, only realizing his mistake when he hears the other toad’s warning chirp.

 


#8. Woodhouse’s Toad

  • Anaxyrus woodhousii

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult length is 2 ½-4 inches.
  • Coloring ranges from gray to yellowish or olive green.
  • The belly is light tan or buff, with very few dark spots on the chest.

 

Woodhouse’s Toads are adaptable to many environments, including grasslands, deserts, floodplains, and developed areas. Interestingly, individuals that live in suburban areas will wait under street lamps to catch and eat insects attracted to the light.

Woodhouse’s Toad Range Map:

 

The most striking feature of these amphibians is their shape – they are round and stout, with short legs that look too small to support their bodies!

 

Woodhouse’s Toads have a very short call that resembles a distressed sheep’s bleat.

 


#9. Eastern Spadefoot

  • Scaphiopus holbrookii

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult length is 1 ¾ – 2 ¼ inches.
  • The coloring is brown to almost black, with two yellowish lines running down the back from the eyes.
  • Spade is sickle-shaped and three times as long as it is wide.

 

Although they’re related to toads, spadefoots are a separate class of amphibians. Their name refers to a specialized “spade” on their leg that helps them burrow underground!

Eastern Spadefoot Range Map:

It’s rare to spot these amphibians in southern Louisiana because they spend so much time underground. In fact, they can go years without a breeding season, preferring to come out only after a period of extended rain and breed explosively for a short time.

 

Male Eastern Spadefoots call to attract females with a short grunting noise during the breeding season. Interestingly, males float in bodies of water while they call, instead of waiting on land and following a female into the water.

 


#10. Eastern Newt

  • Notophthalmus viridescens

eastern newt - common amphibians in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Larvae are aquatic and have smooth, olive green skin, narrow, fin-like tails, and feathery gills.
  • Juveniles are terrestrial and have rough, orangish-red skin with darker spots outlined in black.
  • Adults have slimy, dull olive-green skin, dull yellow undersides, darker black-rimmed spots, and a blade-like tail.

 

Eastern Newts have the most complicated life cycle of any amphibian in Louisiana!

 

When they’re first hatched, they spend all of their time in the water. This larval stage lasts for two to five months. After that, they metamorphose into juvenile Eastern Newts.

 

They live in terrestrial forest habitats for two to seven years during their juvenile stage. Even though they generally remain hidden under moist leaf litter and debris, you may see them moving about on rainy days and nights, foraging insects, worms, and spiders. This is the stage of life you’re most likely to see an Eastern Newt. If you spot one, be careful – they have glands that secrete a potent neurotoxin when they’re threatened.

 

 

Finally, Eastern Newts will migrate back to a water source and metamorphose into aquatic adults, where they eat small amphibians, fish, and worms. They can live up to 15 years and spend the rest of their lives in this aquatic form.

 


#11. Spotted Salamander

  • Ambystoma maculatum

types of amphibians in the united states

Identifying Characteristics

  • Adults are 5.9 to 9.8 inches long with wide snouts. They are typically black but may also be bluish-black, dark grey, dark green, or dark brown.
  • They have two uneven rows of spots down their back, from just behind their eyes to the tip of their tail. Spots on the head are orange and fade to yellow further down the body and tail.

 

The Spotted Salamander is found primarily in hardwood forests with vernal pools, temporary ponds created by spring rain. Like many small amphibians in Louisiana, they require vernal pools for breeding because the fish in permanent lakes and ponds would eat all their eggs and larvae.

 

These amphibians are fossorial, meaning they spend most of their time underground. Spotted Salamanders are typically only seen above ground just after heavy rain, so you’ll need to get a little muddy to find one! They go dormant underground during the winter months and don’t come out until the breeding season between March and May.

 


#12. Common Mudpuppy

  • Necturus maculosus

 amphibians in the united states

Identifying Characteristics

  • Adults range from 8 to 19 inches in length.
  • This species is rusty brown to gray or black with scattered bluish-black or black spots.
  • The large, bushy, red, or maroon external gills behind the flattened head make this species easy to identify.

 

Common Mudpuppies are among the most well-known amphibians in Louisiana.

 

These LARGE salamanders can be found in nearly any body of water, including lakes, reservoirs, ditches, and rivers. They are secretive and require habitats with lots of cover, such as boulder piles, submerged logs, tree roots, or vegetation.

 

 

Common Mudpuppies are nocturnal and spend their days hiding under rocks. They’re active at night and hunt by walking along the lake or river bottom, but they can also swim. These opportunistic feeders eat whatever aquatic organisms they can catch, including insect larvae, small fish, fish eggs, aquatic worms, snails, and even carrion.

 

In the spring, when water temperatures don’t fluctuate as much, these amphibians spend time in shallow water. However, they have been reported in water as deep as 100 feet during the summer and winter!

 


#13. Marbled Salamander

  • Ambystoma opacum

Identifying Characteristics

  • Adults range from 3.5 to 4.25 inches in length.
  • Their coloring is dark brown or black. Males have white crossbands while females have silver or gray.
  • Stout-bodied and chubby, females tend to be larger than males.

 

Marbled Salamanders occupy various damp habitats, from low-lying floodplains to moist, wooded hillsides. However, they spend most of their time underground or beneath rocks, logs, leaf litter, or other debris, so it’s unusual to find one unless you’ve disturbed its hiding place!

 

These amphibians are considered a keystone species in Louisiana, an animal whose disappearance would completely change its ecosystem.

 

For example, let’s look at the relationship between Marbled and Spotted Salamanders:

Marbled Salamanders eat Spotted Salamander larvae, which eat zooplankton. Therefore, if Marbled Salamanders were suddenly removed from this food chain, the Spotted Salamander population would explode.

With so many more Spotted Salamanders eating zooplankton, eventually, the zooplankton would become extinct in that area. Then, once their food source disappeared, Spotted Salamanders would also disappear.

 


What types of amphibians in Louisiana have you seen?

 

Let us know in the comments!

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