17 COMMON Amphibians in Canada (ID Guide)
Are you wondering what amphibians you can find in Canada?
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 Canada. In addition, you will find detailed pictures, along with range maps for each species to help with your identification!
- RELATED: 8 Common Reptiles in Canada (W/Pics!)
17 Types of Amphibians That Live in Canada:
#1. Northern Leopard Frog
- Lithobates pipiens
- Adults range from 5-11.5 cm long.
- Smooth skin is green, brown, or yellow-green with large dark spots.
- Lighter-colored raised ridges extend down the length of the back.
You can spot these amphibians in Canada near slow-moving bodies of water with lots of vegetation. Northern Leopard Frogs are easy to see in or near ponds, lakes, streams, and marshes. I love how bright green most individuals appear!
Northern Leopard Frog Range Map
Due to their fairly large size, these amphibians eat various foods, including worms, crickets, flies, small frogs, snakes, and birds. In one study, a bat was even observed being eaten!
During the spring breeding season, the males will float in shallow pools emitting a low call thought to sound like snoring. However, the Northern Leopard Frog may also make a high, loud, screaming call if captured or startled.
Northern Leopard Frog populations are declining in many areas, and the cause is not exactly known. It’s thought to be a combination of habitat loss, drought, introduced fish, environmental contaminants, and disease.
#2. Green Frog
- Lithobates clamitans
- Adult body lengths range from 5-10 cm, 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 southeastern Canada.
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.
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
- Adults are small and range from 2.5-4 cm 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 Canada.
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
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. Pickerel Frog
- Lithobates palustris
- Adult body length ranges from 5-10 cm.
- 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 Canada, Pickerel Frogs prefer cool, clear water. You can find them in ponds, rivers, lakes, slow-moving streams, and ditches.
Pickerel Frog Range Map
Pickerel Frogs are one of the few poisonous amphibians in Canada!
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.
#5. Western Chorus Frog
- Pseudacris triseriata
- Adult body length up to 4 cm long.
- Smooth skin with color that varies from gray to green or brown.
- Dark brown or gray stripes run down the back, a dark stripe from the snout through the eye, and a white stripe on the upper lip.
- Also called the Midland Chorus Frog.
In Canada, look for these amphibians in woodland ponds, marshes, swamps, meadows, and grassy pools.
Western Chorus Frog Range Map
For breeding, they try to find bodies of water without fish, including flooded fields, beaver ponds, roadside ditches, marshes, and shallow lakes and ponds. The female attaches small masses of eggs to underwater vegetation.
Western Chorus Frogs are secretive and nocturnal, so they can be hard to spot. Your best way to locate one is to use your ears. Listen for a unique call that is rapid and relatively short and sounds a bit like running your finger over the teeth of a comb. PRESS PLAY BELOW.
#6. Boreal Chorus Frog
- Pseudacris maculata
- Adults range from 2.5-4 cm long.
- Coloration is brown, olive green, or tan, with three dark stripes down the back that are sometimes broken into blotches.
- Prominent black stripe on each side from nostril, through the eye, and down the sides to the groin.
- Looks very similar to the Western Chorus Frog. Boreal Chorus Frogs are distinguished by having shorter legs.
While the Boreal Chorus Frog is a common amphibian in Canada, they are rarely seen. They’re small and secretive, inhabiting moist meadows and forests near wetlands.
Boreal Chorus Frog Range Map
These amphibians breed in shallow temporary ponds and pools such as flooded fields and roadside ditches. They require waters free of fish; otherwise, predators would eat most of their eggs and tadpoles!
Males produce a loud chorus of calls at breeding sites, which are easy to identify.
The sound has been compared to someone running a finger over the teeth of a comb (“reeeek“). You’re most likely to hear the calls in the late afternoon or evening.
#7. Pacific Treefrog
- Pseudacris regilla
- Adults can reach 5cm long, with the males typically being smaller.
- Most are green or brown with pale white undersides, but some are reddish, gray, cream, or black.
- Dark mask across the eyes to the shoulders and uniformly bumpy skin.
These amphibians can be found in a wide range of elevations in western Canada, ranging from sea level to 10,000 feet (3,050 m)!
Pacific Treefrog Range Map
Look for Pacific Treefrogs in woodlands and meadows. Interestingly, these amphibians spend most of their time on the ground despite being a treefrog. They even hide from predators in underground burrows!
Also called the Pacific Chorus Frog, this species can be heard during the spring. Their mating call is a two-part call that sounds like “kreck-ek” or “rib-bit.“
#8. Wood Frog
- Lithobates sylvaticus
- Adult body lengths range from 3.5-8 cm.
- Coloration is various shades of brown, gray, red, or green, with females tending to be more brightly colored.
- Distinct black marking across the eyes, which resembles a mask.
As the name suggests, Wood Frogs are found in moist woodland habitats, including forested swamps, ravines, and bogs. They travel widely and visit seasonal pools to breed.
Wood Frog Range Map
This incredible little amphibian has a wide range across North America. They have adapted to cold climates by being able to freeze over the winter. Their breathing and heartbeat stop and their bodies produce a type of antifreeze that prevents their cells from bursting. In the spring, they thaw and begin feeding again.
Wood Frogs are among the first amphibians in Canada to emerge after the snow melts. Listen for a call that sounds a bit like a clucking chicken near vernal pools and other small bodies of water!
#9. American Toad
- Anaxyrus americanus
- Adult length is 5-9 cm.
- Coloring is usually brown to gray, olive, or brick red. Typically, they have patches of yellow, buff, or other light colors, with dark spots.
- The American Toad is distinctive for its many warts present over the back and legs.
These amphibians are common in eastern Canada.
American Toads are found in a wide variety of habitats, including forests, prairies, and suburban backyards. They are carnivorous and mainly eat insects, worms, spiders, and slugs.
American Toads have a very recognizable call. Listen for a musical trilling noise that can last for 30 seconds.
They like to breed in shallow water, and tadpoles have an amazing defense against predators. Incredibly, their skin secretes a toxic chemical so powerful that eating one tadpole can kill a fish! And like their tadpoles, adult American Toads are also toxic to other animals.
#10. Western Toad
- Anaxyrus boreas
- Adult length is 5-13 cm.
- Coloring can range from yellowish, tan, gray, or green with a pale stripe along the back. The Western Toad also has dark blotches with rust-colored edges and warts.
- Males have smoother, less blotchy skin than females.
As its name suggests, the Western Toad lives in the western part of Canada. It has a wide range of habitats, including desert streams and springs, forests, lakes and rivers, and backyard gardens with pools nearby.
Western Toad Range Map:
Unlike most other toads, Western Toads don’t often hop!
Instead, they walk, picking up 1 or 2 legs at a time. You can see this unique movement below!
#11. Great Plains Toad
- Anaxyrus cognatus
- Adult length is 5-11.5 cm.
- Coloring is pale white to tan or olive with large, dark-colored pairs of blotches down the back. Lighter tan or white belly.
- A crest on the head forms a “V” shape from the snout, moving outward on the head toward the back.
Great Plains Toads are found in temporary shallow pools, quiet streams, marshes, or irrigation ditches. They are most common in grasslands and can be found in desert brush and woodland areas.
Great Plains Toad Range Map:
Only a few weeks out of the year are suitable for the Great Plains Toad to feed and reproduce. Amazingly, they spend the rest of the year mostly dormant in underground burrows made by other animals.
Symmetrical dark splotches running down its back make this amphibian one of the easier toads to see, but you will probably hear one nearby long before you can spot it. Its call can last more than 50 seconds and is similar to a jackhammer!
When large groups of Great Plains Toads call, the sound can be near-deafening!
#12. Eastern Newt
- Notophthalmus viridescens
- 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 Canada!
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.
- RELATED: The COMPLETE List of Salamanders in Canada (9 Species)
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.
#13. Spotted Salamander
- Ambystoma maculatum
- Adults are 15-25 cm 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 Canada, 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.
#14. Eastern Tiger Salamander
- Ambystoma tigrinum
- Adults range from 15-20 cm in length.
- Their coloring is dark gray, brown, or black with brownish-yellow to greenish-yellow markings, ranging from large spots and stripes to small irregular shapes on the head, back, and tail.
- This species has a thick body and neck, short snout, strong legs, and a lengthy tail.
These amphibians are one of the largest salamanders in Canada.
Eastern Tiger Salamanders are secretive and spend much of their time underground in woods, grasslands, or marshes. You’re most likely to see them moving about and foraging on rainy nights.
Their diet is primarily made up of insects, worms, slugs, and frogs. However, if there’s a prey shortage, they become much less picky. They’ve been observed feeding on baby snakes, newborn mice, and small salamanders of other species. They will even cannibalize their own young in times of low food supply!
Although Eastern and Western Tiger Salamanders are closely related, it would be unusual to mix up these two species. First, they rarely share the same range and aren’t often seen together. Secondly, Eastern Tiger Salamanders are much larger and have a black patch on their snout.
#15. Western Tiger Salamander
- Ambystoma mavortium
- Adults range from 7.5-16.5 cm in length.
- Their coloring is greenish-yellow with black markings, ranging from large spots and stripes to small irregular shapes on the head, back, and tail.
- This species has a thick body and neck and a short snout.
Western Tiger Salamanders are secretive and spend much of their time underground. You’re most likely to see these amphibians moving about and foraging on rainy nights. Their favorite hiding spots are burrows, which they can make themselves or borrow from other animals.
Interestingly, Western Tiger Salamanders have four distinct morphs as adults. Scientists classify them by whether they are aquatic or terrestrial and what they eat. For example, a typical Western Tiger Salamander eats insects and frogs, breathes above water, and spends time on land.
However, there is a terrestrial morph that cannibalizes other Western Tiger Salamanders! In addition, there are cannibalistic and non-cannibalistic AQUATIC morphs that have gills and breathe underwater.
The aquatic individuals are called paedomorphs, and while they are mature and able to reproduce normally, they retain a lot of the features of larval Western Tiger Salamanders. The most obvious feature is their frilly, long gills!
#16. Common Mudpuppy
- Necturus maculosus
- Adults range from 20-48 cm 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 Canada.
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!
#17. Red-backed Salamander
- Plethodon cinereus
- Adults range from 5-13 cm in length.
- Adults can occur in two color phases: the “lead-back” is consistent gray or black, and the “red-back” has an orange to red stripe down the back and tail.
Unlike most other amphibians in Canada, Red-Backed Salamanders don’t have lungs OR gills! Instead, they “breathe” with their thin skin, absorbing oxygen through moisture. This unique trait means they must stay moist to survive.
Red-backed Salamanders are typically found beneath leaf litter, logs, bark, rocks, or burrows in deciduous forests. They have a low tolerance for dry weather, and typically you’ll only see them during or after rainfall. In the winter, they hibernate underground.
The different phases are also believed to have different methods of predator evasion. For example, the “lead-back” phase salamanders tend to run from predators, while the “red-back” phase will freeze. Both phases of the Red-backed Salamander may also drop all or part of their tail to escape a predator. Eventually, the tail will grow back but is usually duller in color.
What types of amphibians in Canada have you seen?
Let us know in the comments!